Mars has terminated its partnership with Grey Worldwide, soon to be part of WPP Group, as part of a consolidation of its advertising with Omnicom Group's TBWA Worldwide and BBDO Worldwide.
The business is officially set to be realigned by Jan. 1, 2005.
"We wanted to consolidate this into one family of companies where we felt we could get an even better across-the-board partnership," a spokesperson for Mars' Masterfoods USA division said.
Internet, direct and sales promotion will continue to be handled by Grey.
Grey formerly handled globally Starburst and Cookies &, which will move to TBWA; global business for Milky Way and Mars brands, which will go to BBDO; and Twix and Dove brands, which will be handled in the U.S. by independent agency Nitro and by TBWA outside the U.S.
Mars spent $53 million in the U.S. in 2003 on the brands Grey handled, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.
Rumors swirled last month about Grey's fate with Mars when Masterfoods awarded a new campaign for Twix to Nitro, a Shanghai-based agency it had worked with in Asia that has recently opened up shop in New York to handle the new Mars business.
A spokeswoman for Grey declined to comment. Grey, advertising's last independently owned holding company, went on the sales block this summer and was acquired by WPP earlier this month.