Publicis Groupe challenges Interpublic with pitch for McCann stalwart Nescafe

Nestle is reviewing three global accounts at headline creative agency McCann Erickson with Publicis Groupe, which recently won Nestle’s $900m media account in the US, pitching for number one brand Nescafe.

Nestle is, as they say these days, looking for new ideas for Nescafe, Nespresso and Nesquik. But its trawl for the latter two brands is among sibling McCann agencies at Interpublic, its decision to invite the Publicis creative agency to pitch for McCann foundation client Nescafe is the one which will worry IPG and newly-appointed McCann Worldgroup boss Nick Brien the most.

Swiss-based Nestle, the world’s biggest food company, has always been high on Publicis Groupe boss Maurice Levy’s hit list. Back in July the company bought a small Chinese agency G4 to boost its Nestle presence there.

Nestle, which is sitting on a $28bn cash pile after selling its stake in a US eyecare operation, will be well aware of the flurry of agency activity at US-based rival Kraft following its takeover of Cadbury.

Kraft’s European HQ is in Switzerland (it’s currently in trouble with the UK authorities over its plan to shift ownership of Cadbury there and thus avoid billions in UK corporation tax) and, post Cadbury, is a growing force in Europe.

It recently appointed Crispin Porter + Bogusky to handle a global relaunch of chocolate brand Milka and has also shaken up its US agency roster.

Moving Nescafe outside McCann would be a clear sign that Nestle has decided to hit back at the resurgent Kraft.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.