Mindshare’s Nayler ‘thrilled’ about Unilever win

The media agency's managing partner Karen Nayler says work on the new account will move forward 'very quickly.'

It’s only February, but it’s sure to be one of the biggest media stories of the year, as Unilever officially announced yesterday that it has moved its Canadian business from long-time MAOR PHD in Toronto to Mindshare.

It’s a big win for the agency, and one that Mindshare president Karen Nayler couldn’t be more excited about.

‘We’re absolutely thrilled to have won the business here in Canada. Unilever has been one of Mindshare’s most important global business clients for over a decade, so it’s very nice for us in Canada to join that team.’

‘They do great work,’ she continues. ‘They’re at the forefront of pushing forward new and exciting things, and because we have a relationship in other parts of the world, we know how they work. We’re truly valued partners and that’s just great.’

The account includes all brands in the Unilever Canada portfolio, including Dove, Axe, Becel, Lipton and Knorr. Surprisingly, Nayler says, there were no conflicts in Mindshare’s existing portfolio. ‘Remarkably for our size, we’re in great shape. It fits so nicely in terms of our target group and consumers.’

The move was part of a global review by Unilever that started in July of 2009 and included 53 countries. The outcome, a press release on the review said, is split between WPP, Omnicom and Interpublic. Of the 15 lead countries named in the release, Mindshare is MAOR in nine, PHD in one (China), Initiative in four and Media Direction in one.

The agency review is part of a periodic process, Unilever US spokesperson Dean Mastrojohn says.

‘The agency review was about identifying the best agency partners in many of our key markets and has resulted in a significant improvement in capabilities and overall value for Unilever,’ he said in an email interview. ‘We are now confident that we have the best possible partners in each market.’

The review and bid process was indeed a long one, says Nayler, but one she felt was fair to all agencies involved.

‘It has been extensive one and rightly so,’ she says, adding that Unilever’s global billings have been pegged at approximately a billion dollars annually.

‘Those kind of things need to be done with due diligence and fairness in mind. It’s been a very thorough process, and it’s been long, but I think that it needs to be that way, to ensure they’re getting a true picture of what their needs are and how best to fulfill them. I think we were all treated fairly through the whole thing.’

Mindshare is currently evaluating internal staffing to accommodate the new business and may add people as well if the need is determined, Nayler says. While she was unable to comment on the dollar figure tied to the account, she believes that Mindshare’s success in the win was a result of the agency’s global track record with the brand.

‘I think the success, or what we put our success towards, is probably a history of the strength of the relationship that Mindshare has had, the quality of the work that has been performed across many geographies. We were able to demonstrate that that same kind of thinking and delivery is something that we could bring to Canada as well.’

In other Unilever global news, media reports today revealed that global CMO Simon Clift is retiring from the company to spend more time with family in Brazil.