Unilever Names Special Interactive Agencies

The U.S. division of consumer goods giant Unilever announced today the joint appointment of i-shop digital@jwt and direct marketer OgilvyOne as its U.S. interactive agencies of record for media planning and buying.

The announcement gives the two agencies, which have done substantial work for Unilever in the past, a new, rather vague mandate to study and capitalize on emerging interactive platforms and technologies. Although Unilever has had a long history of experimenting in the interactive arena in marketing individual brands — launching a Web site for its Ragu brand back in 1995 — this is the first time that it has hired agencies to help it craft its company-wide media strategy.

“Our collective role is to help Unilever identify emerging on-line opportunities and new ways to leverage the scale of Unilever’s sizeable annual commitment in on-line media,” said Kevin Wassong, senior partner and director of digital@jwt.

“We believe this partnership gives Unilever a distinct competitive advantage in the area of interactive media,” he added.

Lacking specific goals, the assignment is “is more or less to be developed as we go forward,” said Unilever corporate affairs director John Gould.

The move signifies that the global consumer goods company — which includes brands like Lipton, Good-Humor, Slim-Fast, and Dove, among others — is extending its commitment to interactive marketing.

Already, the company has online presences for many of its most popular brands, and has struck partnerships with broadband providers for rich media ad delivery, and with popular online portals for product sponsorships and ad campaigns.

“The decision to appoint an AOR for interactive media signals the growing importance of interactivity as part of Unilever’s core media strategy,” said Unilever vice president for media services Brad Simmons.

OgilvyOne’s Ogilvy Interactive unit recently launched several new interactive efforts for Unilever, including the Pond’s Squad Web site for Pond’s, and will likely handle media strategy in the arrangement.

digital@jwt, a division of ad agency J. Walter Thompson, recently handled assignments for the company’s Lever 2000 and Lipton Brisk brands. The agency also launched the e-commerce Web site for Elizabeth Arden.

Both agencies are owned by WPP Group, plc.

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