Reckitt Reviews $600 Million Creative Account

JWT, McCann, Euro to Battle for Two Roster Spots

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LONDON (AdAge.com) -- Reckitt Benckiser is reviewing its estimated $600 million worldwide creative account in a move to reduce its roster from three agency networks to two.

The household cleaning giant -- whose brands include Dettol, Harpic, Cillit Bang, Vanish, Finish and Airwick, as well as health- and personal-care products including Veet, Lemsip and Gaviscon and the food brand French’s -- will choose two agencies from among JWT, Euro RSCG Worldwide and McCann Erickson Worldwide.

Recently joined roster
Reckitt had only two agencies â€"- WPP Group’s JWT and Havas' Euro RSCG -- until Jan. 31, when the company bought Boots Healthcare International for $3.3 billion. McCann, part of Interpublic Group of Cos., is agency of record for Boots Healthcare, whose brands include Clearasil, Nurofen and Strepsil, and was added to Reckitt's roster.

But McCann was not expected to last: The agency’s position looked shaky when Reckitt dumped Boots Healthcare’s media planning-and-buying agency, WPP's MindShare, and moved the media account to its own roster shop, Omnicom Group's OMD, immediately after the acquisition.

According to executives close to the business, McCann has persuaded Reckitt to give the agency a shot at staying on the roster. Marketer and agency already have a history; McCann worked with Reckitt until 2001, when conflict issues arose with Interpublic's acquisition of True North Communications. (True North’s Foote Cone & Belding network handled advertising duties for Reckitt archrival SC Johnson.) McCann was forced to resign the Reckitt account, estimated then at $150 million, and JWT and Euro RSCG picked up the business.

Improved conflict management
Conflict management within holding companies has changed a lot in the last five years, leaving JWT and Euro RSCG with a fight on their hands to keep their place on the Reckitt roster.

The three agencies have been asked to create new campaigns for one brand apiece, as a test to determine who stays and who goes. JWT is thought to be working on Veet depilatory products, Euro RSCG on Airwick air fresheners and McCann on Clearasil. A decision is not expected until the end of the year.

A Reckitt representative said, “We are happy with the agencies we are working with, as both JWT and Euro RSCG have been strong partners in helping us achieve strong results. We also welcome back McCann as a partner and look forward to strong co-operation on the brands for which they have responsibility.”

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