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Mars sidelines Grey as it consolidates global advertising

LONDON - Mars has sidelined Grey Worldwide and is to consolidate its advertising business globally with two Omnicom Group-owned agencies, TBWA\ and BBDO Worldwide.

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BBDO and TBWA already handle Mars work globally and two will now handle all Mars advertising business, with the exception of a few local or regional specific pieces of work.

BBDO has worked with Mars since 1995 and handles the Cesar, Snickers, Sheba, M&Ms and Mars/Milky Way brands. TBWA became a Mars agency much more recently after it was appointed in 2002. It now handles the Skittles, Pedigree, Whiskas and Uncle Ben's brands.

Mars said that the move would allow it a stronger partnership with its advertising agencies and would be effective as of the end of 2004, according to US reports.

A spokesperson for Mars' Masterfoods USA division said: "With both agencies being part of the global Omnicom family, this move allows Mars to consolidate its advertising business within one single global advertising network."

Although Grey Global Group will no longer serve in an above-the-line capacity, Mars said that it would continue to be "an important agency partner" for Mars across a range of below-the-line activities including interactive, direct and sales promotion.

That Grey has not lost Mars completely will come as some comfort to WPP Group chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell as he completes the $1.5bn acquisition of the US ad firm.

The axing of Grey from its global advertising business has been heralded for some time as Mars looked to move to creatively led agencies. Grey has always had a reputation for account handling rather than outstanding creativity.

Last month, Masterfoods overlooked Grey for the new Twix brief, despite being the brand's agency of record, and awarded the Twix brief to the independent Asian roster shop Nitro ahead of Grey US.

In the UK, where Masterfoods is one of its top clients, Grey has seen its grip on Masterfoods weaken after TBWA was appointed in 2002 and followed by TBWA taking Grey's $100m global Pedigree account.

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