Contrary to reports in a section of the media, Nestle India is not yet in a mood to move its media business away from Universal McCann. “This is not true at all. We have tremendous confidence in Universal McCann and are very satisfied with the work they have been doing for us,” said Ritu Raizada, Manager, Media Services, Nestle India, reacting to the report in a pink newspaper on Monday morning.
So what triggered this news? To put things in perspective, late last year Switzerland-headquartered Nestle SA split its $ 1.6-billion global media planning and buying account between Publicis Group’s ZenithOptimedia and WPP's GroupM, dropping long-time roster agency Universal McCann. Speculation began doing the rounds that the realignment would lead to Universal McCann losing the account in India, a possibility stoutly denied by Nestle India even then.
Expressing surprise, top-level sources in Maxus India clarified that they were not involved in any pitch for Nestle. As one of them pointed out, “Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t as it would lead to a conflict situation. Maxus is already handling the Britannia account. Besides, Mindshare is also out of the question as it is closely involved with the Unilever account.”
So, it was back to basics. Our next call was to Nestle India. As Raizada explained, “Despite the speculation, we have been holding out in favour of Universal McCann in India because of the great work they have been doing for us.”
So, does that mean there has been no invitation for a pitch? This time it was the turn of Himanshu Manglik, Nestle’s Corporate Communications Head, to explain the situation. Said Manglik in a communication to exchange4media, “Nestlé India has requested GroupM and Zenith Optimedia to present their best practices in terms of media buying and planning. This benchmarking exercise will enable the company to evaluate the current quality, terms and priorities of media services with a view for further improvement.”
Does that mean that the scanner is still on Universal McCann? Not really, said Manglik, adding, “this (pitch process) is an integral part of the Nestlé Group’s philosophy of continuous improvement”. He added that Nestlé India was “a professional company, committed to continuous improvement and business relationships that can be sustained over the long term. While Universal McCann has been doing great work for us, we like to benchmark ourselves with the best at all times.”
That left one issue to be sorted out. What is this GroupM entity then? The answer is neither Maxus nor Mindshare. It is GroupM’s third agency, Mediaedge:cia (MEC), which has been invited to make a presentation along with Zenith Optimedia.
As a senior industry hand remarked, adding two plus two need not always get one a four.