Shops Lick Chops Over $1.8 Billion as J&J Prepares to Integrate Pfizer

Shops Ready to Pounce on Opportunities as Final $16.6 Billion Purchase Nears

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CINNATI (AdAge.com) -- A convergence of changes at Johnson & Johnson could present unprecedented opportunities for agencies to grab portions of its $1.8 billion advertising business next year-and several are already gearing up to do so.

The once-staid New Jersey family of drug and personal-care brands is at a watershed on several fronts, not least of them the $16.6 billion acquisition of Pfizer's over-the-counter drug and personal-care business expected to close in January.

J&J appears to be using the Pfizer integration as an opportunity to streamline its Byzantine organizational structure. People close to the company say it's reining in its far-flung empire by consolidating sales forces and marketing organizations along category lines.

That should help it go to market as a single consumer-products company and flex its promotional clout with big retailers while eliminating some organizational oddities that have seen such J&J businesses as skin care and over-the-counter drugs parceled out among multiple units.

But it also could mean new marketing chiefs deciding on agency relationships at a time when the incoming Pfizer business already creates opportunities for new shops to join the roster.

no reviews yet

"A lot of people are stirring the pot," said one person familiar with the company, agencies and a rising tide of rumors about their courtship of J&J. But he said there are no reviews yet, and that no decisions are likely to come until sometime after the Pfizer deal closes. J&J declined to comment.

The chance to decide on the fate of the Pfizer accounts and other potential changes comes as J&J's central marketing-services organization-in the past year newly expanded, empowered and relocated to Manhattan-has shown a growing interest in raising the company's game creatively and in media.

In the past year alone, the company has pulled out of the network-TV upfront, worked to apply engagement metrics to its media deals and bring media companies into creative development. It also added agencies including WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather and independent Mother to its roster.

People familiar with the matter said Ogilvy is eager to add more J&J business to a small relationship that includes a high-profile but temporary assignment handling J&J's work on the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Meanwhile, WPP sibling JWT also is preparing to defend its hold on the majority of the Pfizer OTC and personal-care brands it already handles, according to people familiar with the matter. The agency was a finalist in the Olympics account review earlier this year.

WPP stands to possibly move from having a relatively minor client in J&J to a major one on par with Interpublic Group of Cos. and Omnicom Group. The deal also potentially adds WPP's Mediaedge:cia, which now handles media buying for the Pfizer brands, to a J&J mix that includes Omnicom Group's OMD Worldwide and Interpublic Group of Cos.' Universal McCann.

But other incumbent holding companies and agencies aren't standing still. Interpublic's Lowe earlier this year hired Barbara Boyle, well regarded at Procter & Gamble Co. for her work on such aircraft-carrier brands as Pampers and Tide, as global executive creative director on the J&J account, which includes baby products.

Interpublic's McCann, which may have the single biggest agency relationship with J&J, followed by adding a No. 2 account executive- Jonathan Goldmacher-who moved to the company from Havas' Euro RSCG.

Within the Omnicom fold, DDB Worldwide, Roberts & Tarlow, and BBDO are all looking to hold or add business from J&J as well, according to people familiar with the matter. BBDO could join J&J's roster for the first time via Pfizer brands that include Rogaine and Lubriderm. After sticking with P&G following its acquisition of Gillette, BBDO is attempting to add its second package-goods behemoth in two years.

contributing: lisa sanders, brooke capps
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