$110 Million Review Down to Three Other Agencies

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NEW YORK ( -- After 28 years as the only creative agency Tylenol has ever known, Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi has been eliminated from the $110
million review for the over-the-counter pain medication, executives close to the situation said.

Executives said the review is down to a three-way shootout between Interpublic Group of Cos. agencies: Deutsch, New York; Martin Agency, Richmond, Va.; and Hill Holliday Connors Cosmopulos, Boston.

Other cuts
Saatchi was eliminated along with fellow New York shops TBWA/Chiat/Day, a unit of Omnicom Group, and Interpublic's Alchemy, a division of Lowe.

Saatchi referred calls to the client. A spokeswoman for Johnson & Johnson's McNeil Consumer and Specialty Pharmaceuticals division, maker of Tylenol, would only say that Saatchi is the brand's agency of record and that a decision would not be announced until Thanksgiving week.

Saatchi's relationship with Tylenol dates to the brand's inception in 1975. In 1982, the agency -- then known as Saatchi & Saatchi/Compton -- was instrumental in helping the brand recover from a disastrous tampering tragedy in which seven people in the Chicago area died from ingesting Tylenol Extra-Strength capsules laced with cyanide.

Crisis management
Saatchi helped J&J conduct what is now considered a masterful, textbook example of crisis management in confronting the misfortune. The marketer immediately pulled all Tylenol products, sent 2 million pieces of literature to the medical community and revolutionized the industry in revamping its packaging to prevent future tampering.

Earlier this year, Saatchi & Saatchi launched Tylenol's latest product, Tylenol 8 Hour, a pain medication targeted at physically active 18- to 34-year-olds. But a J&J executive told Advertising Age in September that the decision to put the account into review stemmed from a difference of opinion with Saatchi, as well as the marketer's opinion that the Tylenol 8 Hour campaign was "not working."

Opening for Interpublic
When J&J and McNeil decided to open the review, Interpublic swarmed in the hopes of adding a premier brand to its already-strong block of J&J business. McCann-Erickson Worldwide handles the Band-Aid and Accuvue contact lenses business, while media-buying arm Universal McCann has virtually all of J&J's brands. Lowe has the marketer's corporate branding and Alchemy handles Imodium, the Motrin brands, J&J's McNeil Nutritionals business and Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceuticals.