NEWS: B-M and Shandwick in pitch for Unilever

Anglo-Dutch conglomerate Unilever is seeing pitches from two PR firms for a new worldwide corporate account, tipped to be worth between pounds 300,000 and several million pounds.

Anglo-Dutch conglomerate Unilever is seeing pitches from two PR firms

for a new worldwide corporate account, tipped to be worth between pounds

300,000 and several million pounds.



Roster agencies Burson-Marsteller and Shandwick are due to pitch early

next month. Hill and Knowlton was also approached but declined the

invitation.



The pitch echoes a similar process begun by Unilever’s detergent arm

Lever Brothers, which appointed Burson-Marsteller last year to undertake

a pan-European research project. B-M’s contract, to create an

infrastructure for Lever’s internal and external communications was

worth around pounds 350,000 in fees and is half way through.



The agency has also advised other Unilever subsidiaries such as Elida

Faberge and Van den Bergh Foods, making it B-M’s biggest client.



Shandwick’s relationship with Lever Brothers goes back 20 years.

Corporate PR work is handled through Shandwick Consultants and Welbeck

handles most of the brand work.



The process of finding an agency to promote the Unilever corporate brand

is being led by Mike Nash, Unilever’s London-based head of corporate

relations.



The new contract is thought to predate Unilever’s management

restructuring in March which saw operational responsibility devolve to

the regional level, with strategic decision-making left to a new seven

strong executive committee.



Aside from Lever Brothers, Unilever’s main subsidiaries include Bird’s

Eye Walls, John West, Van den Bergh Foods, Calvin Klein, Elizabeth Arden

and healthcare arm Unipath.



The company has traditionally relied on individual brand promotion

rather than pushing the Unilever name.



One source told PR Week: ‘Unilever has been looking at extending the

corporate PR remit for a long time - the company is diversified in terms

of geography as well as brands and it is looking to pull all that

together.’



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