Craik Jones Watson Mitchell Voelkel is parting company with Unilever just months after it was merged into sister Omnicom agency, Proximity. The move has been triggered by a conflict with existing Proximity clients Procter & Gamble and Mars.
Craik Jones, which has been progressively integrated into Proximity since August, holds the DM account for Unilever’s Knorr, Bertolli, Carte d’Or, Impulse, Sure deodorant and Surf brands.
Unilever is understood to be considering whether to review the accounts, or move them into one of its below-the-line agencies. These include Billington Cartmell, Inferno and OgilvyOne.
Craik Jones had failed to bounce back from big account losses last year, including
the departure of the £18m Orange account and the Land Rover account after 16 years. Both were the result of global consolidation.
This year, under new chief executive, Mike Welsh, the agency lost Gap to Kitcatt Nohr Alexander Shaw without a pitch (MW August 14), and was not invited to repitch for the Boots DM business. It has won a place on the Capital One and RAC rosters.
In September, Welsh announced he would be moving from the role to the same position at Publicis Dialog.
A Proximity spokeswoman says the agency continues to work with Unilever and discussions are ongoing.