Unilever pools PR for corporate fightback

Unilever is merging its UK corporate PR account across four divisions as the consumer goods giant bids to slim down its unwieldy operating structure.

The company wants to coordinate its 'add vitality to life' brand message to help improve performance in the wake of criticism over its recent poor performance.

A spokeswoman for the company, whose key brands include Dove soap and Magnum ice cream, said it had shortlisted three agencies for the new account, understood to carry fees in excess of £250,000 a year.

Fishburn Hedges currently handles corporate PR for the umbrella group Unilever UK while Blue Rubicon works on corporate PR for the company's Home & Personal Care division (which previously operated under the name Lever Faberge).

Unilever said it would appoint an agency next month to co-ordinate corporate PR for these two divisions as well as Unilever Ice Cream & Frozen Foods and Unilever UK Foods (formerly Unilever Bestfoods), neither of which currently have a retained corporate communications adviser.

The successful agency will report to UK Foods head of comms Duncan Bogie, UK Home & Personal Care PR chief Emma Flack and Ice Cream & Frozen Food head of comms Helen Lo.

Last week Unilever announced an end to its dual management structure after reporting 'unsatisfactory' earnings for 2004. Its pre-tax profits for the calendar year fell 36 per cent to £1.99bn.

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