Procter & Gamble has selected Omnicom's Ketchum as its global and North America external relations agency of record for Gillette, striking a blow to Omnicom sister agency and 20-year incumbent Porter Novelli.
Both agencies referred calls to the client.
"We believe that the depth and breadth of Ketchum's global expertise, combined with an innovative creative and client engagement model, will help accelerate the growth of the brand and set new standards of excellence in the industry," said Damon Jones, director of global external relations for P&G Shave Care, in a statement. "Porter Novelli remains a valued and trusted partner and will continue to support Gillette's Regional Business Units and other P&G brands in multiple countries around the world."
It's understood that a competitive review that began this summer came down to five firms with experience in the male category, including P&G firms Taylor and Paine and a second non-roster firm.
Putting shops within the same holding company in the ring to fight for the business is almost as rare as P&G bringing in a non-roster agency to handle its retainer business. Ketchum works with the brand in Germany and Brazil but it's not one of the company's five agencies in the U.S. The roster includes: Publicis Groupe 's MSLGroup and Interpublic Group's DeVries, as well as independents Paine PR, Taylor and Marina Maher Communications.
Regarding the move to bring in an outside shop, Damon Jones told Ad Age : "I wouldn't expect more of that in the future. This was very unique and bespoke to Gillette given Gillette's unique business model. There are only a few brands that market to men. For the majority of P&G's business, the client prospect consumer is a she."
The agency will work closely with Omnicom creative shop BBDO, which serves as the lead agency on the Gillette brand, adhering to P&G's brand agency leader (BAL) structure. Within this structure, social-media duties for Gillette are handled by its PR firm in the U.S. Ketchum will lead global PR strategy and execution in North America. Serena De Morgan, Ketchum partner and global client director for P&G, will serve as the lead on the account. She is based in the UK.
Losing this $4 to $6 million business doesn't bode well for Porter Novelli, which has lost at least 20 executives over the past few months, including senior-level digital and P&G account executives, according to those familiar with the firm. Executives include Sheryl Kornfeld, John Havens, Peter Pitts and David Richeson, among others.
It's understood that the change won't affect regional PR accounts outside the U.S.: Interpublic Group's Weber Shandwick in India and WPP's Hill & Knowlton in the U.K. Porter Novelli will continue to work with the company in China, Latin America and various European locations.