Although J&J has about two hundred brands in China, many are not well known. A publicly traded company, J&J also wants to raise its corporate profile among the global investment community, which is increasingly focused on listed companies' plans for growth in China.
The WPP Group agency's win followed a five-way pitch held in Shanghai on Easter Sunday against two roster agencies, Interpublic Group of Cos." Lowe Worldwide and McCann Erickson, and WPP's JWT and Omnicom Group's TBWA Worldwide.
"[Ogilvy] demonstrated that they have a great understanding of the Chinese culture and will provide us with great creative and strategic ideas through a strong and supportive team," said Marc Monseau, a J&J spokesman at company headquarters in New Brunswick, NJ.
Billings were not disclosed, but execs at the participating agencies predicted the assignment will be 'significant," prompting the networks to bring their own global leaders to China to take part in the review.
"It's basically a corporate brand campaign leading up to and following the Olympics," said an executive who took part in the pitch. "They want to unite their brands under an umbrella campaign in China, a very important market for J&J now, and the Olympics give them a great platform to do that."
"But to be honest, their particular interest isn't the Olympics, it's only building their brands in China. If the next Games were going to be in any other country, they wouldn't be a sponsor. J&J wants to guide its brand for the next ten years in China, not just through the Olympics."
Officially the appointment is a new account, but in the past few months, Lowe has been leading J&J's Olympic-related marketing. The decision to put the account into review was made shortly after J&J hired Joe McCarthy as global VP of advertising and marketing communications five months ago from Nike, where he was global advertising director.
Ogilvy's triumph is a blow to Lowe's China operation, which is going through a painful divorce from its local joint venture partner, a long-troubled relationship.