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By Published on .

Clorox Co. is reassessing its $70 million in ad billings at Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco, following the consolidation of more than $300 million in rival S.C. Johnson & Son worldwide spending at FCB's parent, True North Communications.

"The situation is being reviewed and we're assembling our options," said a Clorox spokeswoman who returned calls placed to company executives.

A source at the company, however, said Clorox executives believe conflicts exist.


"There are some direct conflicts," this source said, adding that officers were miffed when they learned through media reports of the Johnson consolidation.

"They've been our agency since the 1920s. This was a bombshell that was dropped on us," he said.

FCB handles the bulk of Clorox's consumer business, including the namesake brand.

The situation has given rise to concerns about Chicago-based True North sluggishness in creating a second network.

"This has added a degree of urgency" to the search, said one FCB executive.

FCB has conducted talks with Bozell about an acquisition over the past year, and has bought out several smaller agencies in the '90s: Bayer Bess Vanderwarker, Chicago, just this month and Borders, Perrin & Norrander, Portland, Ore., in '93.


Clorox has been pleased with FCB's work on the account and understands the business reasons for True North's decision.

"They're bigger," the insider said of Johnson. "We recognize that."

Jack Balousek, president-chief operating officer of FCB/West, said: "There are some conflict issues that need to be addressed. We are working on it with Clorox, and we don't anticipate there is anything we won't be able to handle."

FCB's business includes the Clorox-branded bleach and cleaner products; Formula 409 cleaners; Tilex cleaners; S.O.S cleaning products; Soft Scrub mild abrasive cleanser; and Pine-Sol cleaner.


Potential areas of conflict, with billings of $20 million, lie with Johnson's Windex glass cleaner, Vanish toilet bowl cleaner, Toilet Duck and Bathroom Duck.

Clorox has an additional estimated $70 million in billings at Young & Rubicam, San Francisco, including Combat and Black Flag insecticides, which it got because FCB had the conflicting Raid account from S.C. Johnson.

Among the options under consideration, said the Clorox exec, are shifting the conflicting business to Y&R; asking FCB to spin off a subsidiary to handle Clorox; or asking select FCB executives to start a new agency.

Contributing to this story: Mark Gleason and Chuck Ross.

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