Who will end up with the brands remains to be seen, said a J&J spokesman, pending outcome of a review among roster shops. The review is expected to be complete within the next few weeks. But he said the Interpublic Group of Cos.' agency had been informed it will lose the global assignments for the brands, though it will continue handling them during a transition period.
Brands in play
The K-Y sexual health brand, which had become a surprising star in J&J's personal-care lineup in recent years, is the biggest spender among the five to move, with 2006 spending of $30.3 million, according to TNS Media Intelligence. Other brands leaving McCann include Monistat, with spending of $19.4 million, Stayfree ($18.9 million), Band-Aid ($16 million) and Reach ($7.2 million).
A McCann spokeswoman referred questions to J&J.
The J&J spokesman said McCann would continue to handle the worldwide Vistakon business, including AcuVue lenses, which had U.S. spending of $26 million last year. McCann also continues to handle J&J in some other categories outside the U.S., including baby care and contraceptives.
He did not mention Splenda, which is handled by Interpublic's Alchemy, a unit of Lowe, but currently in review as well. That brand, which had $35 million in U.S. spending last year, will likely require a marketing overhaul following J&J's undisclosed settlement of a lawsuit by Mersiant, maker of rival non-sugar sweetener Equal, which claimed Splenda's "Made from Sugar" ad claims were misleading.
Other J&J roster shops that could pick up business in the shakeup include Interpublic siblings Lowe and Deutsch, Omnicom Group's DDB and BBDO, WPP Group's JWT and independent Mother, which handles Rembrandt.
Though neither the agency nor the marketer would not confirm it, an executive familiar with the matter said JWT has already been handed Pepsid, Cortaid and Reach.
The J&J spokesman declined to comment on what he termed speculation regarding JWT picking up the Reach account from McCann as well as Mylanta, Pepcid and Cortaid. Mylanta and Pepcid have been handled by Alchemy and are owned by a joint venture between J&J and Merck. Those brands have lost share in recent years to Procter & Gamble Co.'s Prilosec OTC.
The addition of J&J brands is a potentially significant win for JWT and WPP, which people familiar with the matter said had pitched hard to add to its J&J footprint after joining the creative roster for the first time last year via the acquisition of the Pfizer brands. Among other things, JWT handles the biggest brand in that acquisition, Listerine.
"This is the culmination of a review by our marketing group," the J&J spokesman said regarding the move away from McCann, but he declined to cite the reason for the move.