Unilever is pooling 14 countries' media budgets into a single $100 million booty across North Africa and the Middle East, and putting the account out to pitch, in an effort to drive efficiency and consistency across the region. WPP Group's MindShare and Interpublic Group of Cos.' Initiative Media, both Dubai, plus one other unnamed agency group from outside the Unilever roster, will pitch later this month for the new, consolidated budget.
The business is currently handled in the different, individual markets by MindShare (with a 60% share of the overall business), IPG agencies and local shops.
The pitch process, managed locally by Brenda Allen, Unilever's Dubai-based media director for the Middle East, reporting to Alex Andarakis, the business group director for North Africa and the Middle East, based in Jeddah, is expected to be completed by yearend.
The most important of the 14 countries for Unilever are Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Morocco.
Combining the local spends into one "power buck" follows Unilever's strategy, begun three years ago, of pulling together previously disparate threads of its media spending into a coherent, consistent policy driven from the center.
Aligning North Africa with the Middle East reflects the company's new structure, under which those two regions have become one business group. The Middle East was previously in the Central Asia business group.