Burson-Marsteller has scooped the global corporate PR account for Anglo-
Dutch conglomerate Unilever.
The agency has beaten off rival Unilever roster agency Shandwick to land
the business which could be worth several million pounds over the course
of a three-year contract. The appointment has yet to be ratified.
The search for an agency to help manage Unilever’s corporate reputation
has been led by Mike Nash, Unilever’s London-based head of corporate
B-M is thought to have won out over Shandwick because of the strength of
its existing links with Unilever at a time of major upheaval for the
company. A re-organisation in March saw operational responsibility
devolve to the regional level via 14 new business groups. Strategic
leadership was put into the hands of a new seven-strong executive
Another factor in B-M’s favour was its regional coverage - B-M has over
60 wholly-owned offices in 38 countries, plus 33 affiliates. A key task
of the agency will be to develop an international network linking
Unilever and agency people around the world.
According to Unilever’s brief - which PR Week has seen - the successful
agency would need to work closely with the business group/local company
and the corporate relations department.
It added that a key factor in the choice of agency would be its ability
to ‘support corporate leadership communication’, for example, by gaining
coverage of speeches to target audiences in different markets around the
B-M has a long-standing relationship with Unilever. It has been working
with detergents subsidiary Lever Brothers since last year to create an
infrastructure for internal and external communications.
It 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 stretches back more than 20 years.
It is understood that B-M’s appointment is unlikely to affect this
relationship or that between other Unilever subsidiaries such as Bird’s
Eye Walls, John West and Calvin Klein. Unilever’s brief makes it clear
that B-M will be expected to work alongside other agencies on regional
or category business