Meet P&G's new neighbor

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Omnicom denies it, and Procter & Gamble doesn't like to discuss it, but one thing seems clear: The relationship between the premier holding company and premier package-goods marketer is going to grow.

In its latest move since being effectively added to Procter & Gamble Co.'s roster- BBDO is the lead agency for P&G's recently acquired Gillette-Omnicom Group is expanding its office space near the package goods giant's Cincinnati headquarters.

Room to grow

Interbrand, an Omnicom design shop and brand consultancy whose Cincinnati office serves P&G and other clients, said last week it had signed a lease for a new 20,000-square-foot space to allow expansion for itself and other Omnicom agencies. The new lease allows Interbrand to erect a sign visible from Interstate 71, the highway many of P&G's senior executives use on their commute from Cincinnati's lush Indian Hill suburb.

In an Oct. 19 statement, Interbrand said it's also in talks to add a second floor at its new office building, which is "expected to serve as the Cincinnati headquarters for all local Omnicom Group agencies." Among the shops mentioned are promotion shop Integer Group and BBDO, which handles Gillette razors, Oral-B oral care and the Gillette series of deodorants, the latter two of which are managed out of P&G's Cincinnati headquarters.

"This consolidation of Cincinnati-area Omnicom offices is the first step in our efforts to serve our mutual clients as one agency," Werner Dottimer, managing director of Interbrand's Cincinnati office, said in the statement. "Operating from a single location will enable us to provide more and better services, increase operating efficiencies, and spur creativity and collaboration."

Cincinnati expansion

But BBDO currently has no Cincinnati office or official plans to open one, and the only apparent mutual client is P&G. A day after the announcement, Mr. Dottimer and Omnicom siblings were backpedaling.

"That was less based on facts right now than on theorizing," Mr. Dottimer said of the shared-office comments. A spokesman for BBDO emphatically said the agency is not opening a Cincinnati office. An Integer executive did not return calls for comment.

Privately, Omnicom executives have conceded P&G frowns on public campaigning for its business and have strived to avoid it. Some, however, have privately noted that P&G's already extensive business with Omnicom could bode well for BBDO keeping or expanding its P&G business.

"It would make sense if Omnicom agencies who share the mutual clients could share space," Mr. Dottimer said. "That definitely could spin off some quite tangible improvements in our services."

Some of the Cincinnati expansion for Interbrand was necessitated by the addition of other clients not based that city, Mr. Dottimer said, but he declined to name them. Nor is it clear whether the Omnicom shops have any other clients in a city without many other major consumer marketers.

P&G hasn't formally committed to keeping BBDO, but executives have publicly expressed admiration for the agency and welcomed it on board. A P&G spokeswoman said the company neither has nor is in talks to develop a comprehensive deal with Omnicom and said marketing services assignments would be made "on a brand-by-brand basis."

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