Exxon Consolidates Global Ad Duties with Omnicom and Interpublic

Lengthy Pitch Concludes with BBDO Getting Bulk of Creative, Universal McCann Netting Media

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After a year-long review, ExxonMobil has consolidated global advertising duties with Interpublic Group of Cos' Universal McCann for media, while global creative will largely be handled by Omnicom Group's BBDO, according to executives familiar with the matter.

Roster shop DDB, also an Omnicom firm, will hold onto below-the-line work for Exxon's fuel business, continuing to create signage for gas stations, among other things, executives said. As part of the consolidation, BBDO won the above-the-line fuels business, which accounts for all other advertising for fuels. BBDO will handle corporate advertising for Exxon as well as creative work that was previously handled by Interpublic's McCann Erickson and Havas' EuroRSCG.

The selection follows separate but simultaneous creative and media reviews that began last October.

In the final stage of the review, roster agencies included BBDO, DDB and McCann Erickson. Euro RSCG handled the company's corporate advertising and was part of the process early on but was cut from the review.

Media agencies who pitched along with Universal McCann were Omnicom's OMD and Havas' MPG. It's also understood that the initial creative search brought in Publicis, The Martin Agency and Lowe . Joanne Davis Consulting led the search process.

OMD declined to comment and Joanne Davis couldn't be reached for comment.

In 2010 the marketer spent between $120 and $300 million on measured media, according to executives familiar with the account. It's understood that the company intends to spend more in the years to come.

In lieu of the fact that companies often bundle creative and media within the same holding company to create efficiencies, Exxon reviewed media and creative separately. It was initially in an effort to produce a fresh perspective, vs. saving on cost across resources, according to knowledgeable executives. The review was also atypical in its length. Last October, Ad Age reported that it was expected to culminate early this year, but for over a year internal executives fought to hold onto their incumbents despite the company's mandate to consolidate global business, executives close to the review told Ad Age .

The decision marks the end of one of adland's longer-running relationships.

DDB has had Mobil since 1949, and McCann has been with Exxon since 1912, having also historically handled its Esso brand outside the U.S. McCann Erickson's relationship started with Exxon when Harrison King McCann joined Standard Oil as head of the advertising department. After the Supreme Court in 1911 ordered the breakup of John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil empire, Mr. McCann left to open an agency -- H.K. McCann Co., which merged with Erickson Co. in 1930 -- to work for the newly separated companies. Eventually all the other oil clients except Jersey Standard (later Exxon) moved to other agencies.

After Exxon and Mobil merged in 1999, Exxon's agency, McCann, competed with Mobil's DDB for consolidated creative duties. In 2000, DDB was handed the global fuels account, while McCann got the lubricants business. Exxon later handed Havas' Euro RSCG its corporate ad account.

The company assigned UM the consolidated $40 million global media-buying and -planning account for its lubricants brands in 2002.

DDB has picked up pieces of business over the past year, including State Farm work, which it picked back up from DraftFCB, and PepsiCo's Sierra Mist, out of the Chicago office. The agency in October was cut from the Bud Light review, though executives familiar with the business estimated revenue on that account had dwindled to around $2 million by the end. DDB in July announced Peter McGuiness would helm the Chicago office, putting an executive team, including chief creative Ewan Paterson, into place to steer a turnaround. In February, Amir Kassaei was named global chief creative officer, replacing Bob Scarpelli, who stayed on at DDB as chairman.

For BBDO, snaring the consolidated creative duties for Exxon caps a year in which it turned in a strong performance both on the new business and awards circuit. Earlier this year it also won, along with WPP's Ogilvy, global creative duties for S.C. Johnson from DraftFCB.

The agency scored a significant win when its Chicago office, Energy BBDO, picked up sizable chunks of the SC Johnson business in July. Less than a week later, the agency picked up PepsiCo's Frito-Lay Lay's and SunChips brands account. BBDO in late 2010 was tapped to handle Arby's creative, which came almost exactly one year after BBDO lost its longtime Yum Brands' Pizza Hut account.

It's also good news for UM, which lost Microsoft early this year. And it's one of the first big global wins for Jacki Kelley under her title of global CEO. She was promoted from North American CEO in January.

The Exxon news comes as a blow to McCann. CEO Nick Brien has charted a turnaround for McCann Worldgroup, Interpublic's largest agency, and in October recast its leadership, naming Hank Summy president of McCann North America. On the account front, McCann was able to breathe a sigh of relief when it retained the lucrative U.S. Army account -- estimated at nearly $200 million per year in billings and as much as $15 million in revenue -- in March after a review. McCann in September lost its global Nescafe account to Publicis Worldwide, just two weeks after the Nescafe account in the U.K. and Ireland was moved to Publicis. Swedish retailer Ikea in August tapped McCann's New York office to reinvent its catalog, though the agency of record would still remain WPP's Ogilvy & Mather.

Nick Brien, CEO and Chairman, McCann Worldgroup, told Ad Age :"McCann Worldgroup remains a significant partner to ExxonMobil through MRM, Momentum and UM. We are proud of the enormous contributions McCann has made to this client and have great respect for the company and the people with whom we have been privileged to work."

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