Universal McCann Loses Clorox Digital-Media Account to AKQA

Move Was Based On Conflict That, Incidentally, Just Went Away

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Clorox shifted its digital media account to AKQA only a month after the brand selected Interpublic Group of Cos.' Universal McCann as its digital-media agency of record.

Mary O' Connell, Clorox director of digital media, said the company assigned the account to the firm in June, but within a time period to finalize negotiations and scope the company and firm decided to part ways.

"At the end we couldn't finalize the agreement, and then we decided it would make sense to bundle our media-buying business at AKQA, where we assigned them search about a year ago," she said. "AKQA had been our No. 2 choice and we decided there'd be a lot of synergy between media and search."

AKQA and IPG referred calls to the client.

According to an executive familiar with the matter, UM was asked to resign the account due to an IPG conflict, just after Ad Age reported that the firm won the business June 10. The conflict was a small piece of SC Johnson business in support of Initiative . Initiative had handled a large chunk of the SC Johnson media business for a number of years and UM supported that business in one or two local markets where Initiative didn't have offices.

But as of today that conflict is no more, as Ad Age reported that SC Johnson would be moving its business from Interpublic's DraftFCB and Initiative to Ogilvy & Mather and BBDO, with WPP and Omnicom gaining media duties. SC Johnson's U.S. spending is estimated at more than $400 million and global spending exceeding $1 billion.

For AKQA, it's one more piece of media business that shows a diversification of digital offerings. As reported in June, the account includes digital media and buying for the namesake bleach and cleaning products; Green Works home-care products; Pine-Sol cleaners; Fresh Step cat litter; Kingsford charcoal; Hidden Valley and KC Masterpiece dressings and sauces; Brita water-filtration products and Glad bags and wraps and containers.

OMD, which was the incumbent when the brand shifted digital media to UM, managed to hold onto all of the traditional planning and buying business, including internet TV.

Clorox spent $376 million in overall measured media in 2010, $17 million of which was spent on U.S. internet display media, according to Kantar Media. An executive close to the business told Ad Age in June that in the year to come, Clorox plans to spend about 10% to 15% of its overall 2010 spending on digital media.

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