SC Johnson Throws $1 Billion Global Business Into Play

Move Poses Serious Threat to Interpublic Agencies DraftFCB and Initiative

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BATAVIA, Ohio ( -- In a move that poses a serious threat to Interpublic Group of Cos.' shops DraftFCB and Initiative, SC Johnson is putting up for review its massive global advertising and marketing-services account -- estimated at over $1 billion -- as it prepares to issue a request for information early next year.

The review covers the global creative assignment now handled by DraftFCB, plus media buying and planning now handled by Initiative and Naked in the U.S., as well as digital, direct, shopper and promotion marketing handled by a host of Interpublic and non-Interpublic shops. The review, initially reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, is open to all incumbent agencies, an SCJ spokeswoman said, though she didn't rule out others participating.

The company spent $413 million on measured media in the U.S. last year according to Kantar Media, and tallied an estimated $529 million in total marketing spending by Advertising Age DataCenter estimates. Its established business in Western Europe, combined with a rapidly growing Asian business, could put its global outlay well over $1 billion.

The spokeswoman in a statement said SCJ hadn't reviewed its agency relationships in many years and is "looking to be as competitive as possible and do right by our brands." The statement continued, "The review will focus on agencies that have a global knowledge and network, align with the company's values and have a track record of building successful global brands."

The review follows management shakeups both at SCJ and its key agency partner DraftFCB. The agency's former North American president, Mark Modesto, long a key player in a relationship with SCJ that has spanned more than five decades, left abruptly in August. SCJ has seen a series of management changes in the past year, led by the departure of Patrick O' Brien, SCJ's former president-developed markets, and the arrival of Richard Conti, a former longtime executive of rival Clorox Co., as North American chief operating officer.

Among executives apparently working on the review, however, is an SCJ veteran, VP-Marketing Services John Rote. And the review extends well beyond the relationship with DraftFCB, North America or developed markets.

One person familiar with the matter said the review had been "a long time coming" and didn't relate to the departure of Mr. Modesto, calling it part of a "top to bottom" look the company is taking at everything from its packaging to its global advertising.

Besides DraftFCB and Initiative, other Interpublic shops with pieces of SCJ business include UM, which handles media duties outside the U.S.; R/GA, which handles digital work; and Mullen, Boston, which handles Shout in the U.S.

While Interpublic faces a huge potential loss, it also has a chance to try for pieces of the SCJ business it doesn't already have. For example, despite DraftFCB's own consolidation of a wide range of marketing services, it's been largely shut out of handling the growing area of shopper marketing for SCJ.

In the U.S., SCJ's shopper marketing shops include Advantage Sales & Marketing's Integrated Marketing unit and OgilvyAction, joined earlier this week in a venture with WPP sibling Malone Advertising dubbed JWT/OgilvyAction.

SCJ will be hard pressed to move much business outside Interpublic unless it loosens what historically was one of the more rigid anti-conflict stances in the marketing world -- one that in the past led to rival Reckitt Benckiser needing to move away from longtime shop McCann Erickson because it shared a holding company with FCB prior to its merger with Draft.

Today, other holding companies are all accounted for with SCJ competitors. RB is with Havas (Euro RSCG); Clorox is with Omnicom Group ( DDB Worldwide); and Procter & Gamble Co.'s home-care business is with Publicis Groupe ( Saatchi & Saatchi, Leo Burnett Co. and Kaplan Thaler Group) and WPP (Grey Global Group).

SCJ has retained R3:JLB, formerly known as Jones Lundin Beals, as consultant on the review, the spokesoman said. Interestingly R3:JLB in October named as its new global business director Kim Kilchenmann, who came from DraftFCB, where she was senior VP-group management director on global accounts that included SCJ.

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