Upheaval as Gillette and BA part with agencies

Middle East creative and media agencies are bracing themselves for a series of major changes after two of the world’s most famous brands switched their representation.

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By  Tim Addington Published  October 16, 2005

Middle East creative and media agencies are bracing themselves for a series of major changes after two of the world’s most famous brands switched their representation. Leading the charge is Procter & Gamble, which is shifting Gillette’s US$800 million global media buying account away from WPP’s MindShare to the Publicis Groupe’s Starcom MediaVest stable. P&G, which bought Gillette for a record US$57 billion, has moved the account because MindShare handles planning and buying for the company’s archrival Unilever. In the Middle East, MindShare will hand over the Gillette account at the end of the year, even though it no longer works on the Unilever account in the region. Commenting on the move, David Sheridan, regional director at MindShare, said: “Our relationship with Gillette has been first rate, it is very sad to lose them, but that’s the way it goes when global decisions are made. “We are still active and will continue until 31 December. We are currently doing all the planning for 2006 and receiving briefs; it is business as usual until it transfers on 1 January.” WPP has hung on to some of Gillette’s planning business around the world through MediaCom, but the Middle East is not included in that deal, Sheridan said. No spokesman from Starcom Middle East was available for comment when contacted by Campaign. In another significant move, British Airways has dumped its long-term advertising agency M&C Saatchi in favour of BBH, after a three-way pitch including JWT. The US$104 million account has been managed by the Saatchi brothers for more than two decades and the company came up with the “world’s favourite airline” slogan. Publicis Graphics in the Middle East has been handling BA’s creative business in the region since July 2000 after M&C Saatchi subcontracted the airline’s above the line work to it. Both agencies agreed to partner in the global review in order to maximise the chance of holding on to the account. Hassan Fadlallah, deputy general manager, lower Gulf at Publicis Graphics, said he could not comment until all the details of the announcement were known. BA’s contract with Publicis-owned Zenith Optimedia to handle the global media planning and buying has not so far been affected by the review. While BBH are not physically present in the region, Campaign reported last week that the agency has formed an alliance with Dubai-based Face to Face to help out with its recently acquired US$10 million Vaseline account.

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