United Biscuits has appointed Leo Burnett to handle its 18m centralised media buying and planning account.
Burnett, incumbent agency on the 4m (Register-MEAL) McVitie’s business, pitched against BMP DDB Needham, Zenith Media and Optimedia, the incumbent on the 6.5m KP account.
UB’s two other roster agencies, MediaCom and John Ayling & Associates, dropped out of the race after preliminary discussions with UB’s media consultants the Billett Consultancy. MediaCom handled the 4.5m Ross Young’s frozen foods business but was unable to pitch for the centralised account because of a potential conflict with its work for Mars. Ayling handled the 1.8m Phileas Fogg account.
One of the losing agencies claims Burnett started with an advantage: “Someone who already has about 5m worth of business can afford to take a lower commission on the centralised account because the extra business is marginal money.”
UB took six months to review the business and reach a decision. This raised suspicions among the pitching agencies that few of its component divisions were committed to the review.
UB has traditionally operated a devolved structure. It disbanded its centralised media co-ordination unit and appointed Optimedia as media co-ordinator in December 1993, following the departure of advertising controller Ian Shenton.
Both Burnett and United Biscuits were unavailable for comment as Marketing Week went to press.