Carat set to clinch £680m Unilever pan-European media buying brief

Unilever is tipped to move its £680m pan-European media buying account into Carat in what would be a huge blow to incumbents Initiative Media and MindShare.

Unilever is tipped to move its &£680m pan-European media buying account into Carat in what would be a huge blow to incumbents Initiative Media and MindShare.

It is understood that global media director Alan Rutherford has recommended to the individual European markets that the business be awarded to Carat, which already works on Unilever’s frozen foods business in the UK.

Although a final decision has yet to be made, Rutherford holds the ultimate responsibility for the account.

The consolidation of the packaged goods giant’s media buying business comes at a time when it is under intense pressure to make the business leaner and more competitive following two successive profit warnings. Unilever is aiming to slash up to &£30m from its media spend budget.

The news will come as a shock to Initiative in particular, which holds the account in 11 of the 14 markets in which the review was conducted, including the UK, and about &£400m of total billings across Europe. Initiative has already survived one review of the UK business in 2002 against MindShare and Carat.

Last week, the company admitted that it has started on the first wave of marketing redundancies under its “One Unilever” strategy, with a ten per cent cut in staff at Unilever Bestfoods (MW last week). Media planning is not included in the review.

Latest from Marketing Week

Influencers, consultancies and the recruitment crisis: The key topics of conversation at Cannes Lions

cannes lions

Cannes Lions 2018: Marketers turned out in force to advertising’s biggest annual event. But away from the usual talk of purpose and creativity, some big issues such as the recruitment crisis, how advertising responds to the #MeToo movement and cleaning up the influencer marketing space were discussed.


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here