Food giant United Biscuits is reviewing its £18m media buying business with a view to centralising it into one buying point.
The company, which comprises McVitie’s Group, KP Foods and frozen food company Ross Young’s, has asked a media consultant, the Billett Consultancy, to draw up a shortlist of media agencies to pitch for the business.
The incumbents on the business – Publicis’ media dependent Optimedia, Grey’s Mediacom, Leo Burnett and media independent John Ayling & Associates – are understood to have been asked to pitch. Three other agencies are also expected to pitch.
“They have been thinking about it for some time,” says one incumbent. “And now they have told us they’ve gone a bit further this time. I don’t believe a commitment to centralise has been made yet.”
Rumours about a United Biscuits media centralisation have been circulating since it wound down its in-house media co-ordination unit in December 1993. Optimedia was appointed at the time to handle the co-ordination task.
Mediacom, incumbent on the Ross Young’s business through its Mind Over Media subsidiary, may have to consider whether to pitch because the McVitie’s biscuit business would clash with its Mars Confectionery account.
“We would be so deep in the shit with Mars it’s unbelievable,” says one Mediacom source.
The pitch is further confused by City rumours that UB is a likely target for a takeover by Hanson. Lord Hanson is known to favour Lowe Howard-Spink for consumer brands.