CONSOLIDATION BUG HITS K-C;POST-MERGER DECISION TO TRIM AD AGENCY ROSTER IS IN THE WORKS

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Kimberly-Clark Corp. wants to consolidate its ad agency roster and will begin meeting with its agencies this month to explore ways of doing so.

The household products marketer said it hopes to have a plan in place by the end of March.

Executives at some of the company's six agencies say K-C had delayed meetings in order to deal with more pressing concerns stemming from its recent acquisition of Scott Paper Co.

K-C and Scott spent $175 million on U.S. advertising in 1995.

When it consolidates, K-C will become the latest in a string of major consumer products companies to reduce its shops.

Since the beginning of December, Colgate-Palmolive Co., Bayer, S.C. Johnson & Son and Reckitt & Colman have moved virtually all of their worldwide advertising to a single agency.

And there is more to come: Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. is considering paring its roster of six agencies to three, while S.C. Johnson & Son's consolidation with Foote, Cone & Belding parent True North Communications, Chicago, is prompting Clorox Co. to consider parking all of its $220 million in billings at one shop.

Young & Rubicam, San Francisco, is the other agency on Clorox's roster but it is Colgate's agency, and conflicts would have to be addressed.

Kimberly-Clark had a relatively lean roster before buying Scott: FCB, Chicago; Ogilvy & Mather, New York; and Campbell Mithun Esty, Minneapolis. With the acquisition, it inherited three more: Bozell Worldwide, McCann-Erickson Worldwide and J. Walter Thompson Co., all New York.

Kimberly-Clark, with sales of more than $7 billion, spent about $150 million on U.S. advertising last year. Almost all of that was billed through FCB and O&M. Scott, with sales of $3.6 billion, spent about $25 million on U.S. advertising, split fairly evenly among its three agencies.

Both companies also spent significantly on overseas advertising.

With the purchase of Scott, Kimberly-Clark has acquired second, third and even fourth brands in some categories. Analysts expect it to jettison a few of the smaller ones.

Kimberly-Clark had only a small presence in paper towels before buying Scott. But now with the ScotTowels and Viva brands, it has added strength. That could bode well for McCann, Scott's global towels agency.

JWT handles Scott brand toilet and facial tissues, while Bozell has the ad assignments for Scott's Baby Wipes and Cottonelle toilet tissue. Those products join Kimberly-Clark's Kleenex and Huggies brands in the same categories, allowing the company two basic options: It could either choose to align brands by category at different agencies or keep competing brands within a category at different agencies.

Scott agencies are hoping for the latter, while Kimberly-Clark agencies prefer the former.

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