Advertising Age reported Unilever is staging a global digital agency review that will include incumbents and fresh contenders. One key problem with the competition is underscored by scanning the incumbents, which include traditional advertising agencies, digital agencies, media companies and PR firms. In short, everyone thinks they can deliver digital. Plus, some of Unilever’s digital agencies (e.g., Razorfish) are barely capable of delivering decent digital. Additionally, clients like Unilever believe they can receive adequate digital from any source—or maybe they secretly believe they’ll get the same old digital shit from any source, and this exercise is simply about identifying the cheapest vendor. Regardless, this review demonstrates the commoditization of digital, where all the players are generic hacks lining up for the opportunity to produce banner ads and email blasts. Let the online games begin.
Unilever Begins Global Digital Agency Review to Revamp Roster
CPG Giant Evaluating Creative, Web Development, Online Marketing, Mobile, Social and Data and Analytics
By Alexandra Bruell
Unilever has begun a formal global digital agency review, according to industry executives.
The London-based packaged-goods giant has enlisted MediaLink to aid in the search, which appears to be an effort to revamp its global digital roster across brands and digital practices, including creative, web development, online marketing, mobile, social media and data and analytics, people familiar with the brief said.
The agencies invited to participate include incumbents and non-incumbents across various agency holding companies. They will present capabilities in mid-August, beginning a long process that’s not expected to wrap up until the end of the year.
A Unilever spokeswoman did not provide comment on deadline Tuesday. MediaLink declined to comment.
The move comes as the marketer was wrapping up a U.S.-focused digital agency roster evaluation. That process has now been folded into the larger pitch.
WPP’s Ogilvy; Publicis’ Razorfish; IPG’s Huge, R/GA and Lowe Profero; Engine Group’s Noise; and independent VaynerMedia are among the many shops that have supported digital efforts for Unilever brands. A number of PR shops, such as Edelman, GolinHarris and Weber Shandwick have also handled social media efforts for various brands.
Unilever in December 2013 announced plans to cut its worldwide marketing headcount by 12%, or more than 800 people. The company also said it would continue to trim agency and commercial production fees, framing the moves as part of continuous cost savings of the sort that have been common since Paul Polman became CEO in 2009.
Following a media review in 2012, the company decided to keep its U.S. media buying at WPP’s Mindshare and later awarded a global media planning assignment to Omnicom Group’s PHD. MediaLink supported that search as well.
Unilever spent $1.29 billion on total U.S. advertising in 2013. It’s ranked 28 on the Ad Age DataCenter’s list of top U.S. ad spenders.