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
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
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