Clorox Consolidates Agency Work With FCB, McGarryBowen/Dentsu

'Pitchapalooza' Includes Digital, Sidelines Four Incumbents as Clorox Looks to Get Faster

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FCB and McGarryBowen are big winners in a Clorox Co. review. The two will be dividing up creative duties, including digital, that had been handled by longtime shops DDB, Critical Mass and Swirl, the company confirmed.

FCB, which will handle the account out of its San Francisco and Chicago offices, will be responsible for the global cleaning brands such as Clorox, Pine-sol, Liquid-Plumr, Poett and Glad trash and food-protection products.

McGarryBowen will handle specialty brands, including Burt's Bees, Kingsford, Brita and Fresh Step. Dentsu Aegis, however, will handle the food brands, KC Masterpiece and Hidden Valley, out of San Francisco, as McGarryBowen is conflicted due to its Kraft relationship. Most of the work was previously handled by Omnicom's DDB, with Baldwin& handling Burt's Bees.

Being part of Dentsu was crucial to McGarry's win, said Clorox Chief Marketing Officer Eric Reynolds in an interview, because Burt's Bees is rolling out globally.

The new assignments include digital duties, so besides DDB, which conceded earlier today that it would lose its two-decade relationship with Clorox, the decision also affects Omnicom sibling Critical Mass and independent Swirl. AKQA has a hand in digital creative by virtue of handling digital media buying, Mr. Reynolds said, but it and general media shop OMD are unaffected by the moves.

Swirl and Critical Mass declined to comment.

"We are immensely proud of the work we have created together with Clorox. Market share, sales and stock performance are all up, and advertising is at the core of driving growth of their brands," Wendy Clark, CEO of DDB North America said in a statement. "We wish Clorox the very best in their endeavors and are proud to have made an indelible mark on a company known for removing them."

David Baldwin, principal of Baldwin&, said, "It's very difficult to navigate six CMOs in six years on any business. But after such a long time you develop lasting friendships, and we wish our colleagues at Burt's the very best. We're very proud of our body of work, including [an Advertising Age Small Agency Awards] Campaign of the Year and 69% sales growth during our tenure. We're leaving the business better than we found it, and really what more can you ask for in this business?"

The six CMOs reference includes four at Burt's Bees and two at Clorox, he noted. Baldwin& was selected originally by Burt's then CMO Mike Indursky, who stayed with the brand for years after it was acquired by Clorox in 2007.

Some digital duties now handled internally also may move to the new agencies, Mr. Reynolds said. Clorox has a team in place to bring the new agencies on board quickly by the start of its fiscal year July 1.

Clorox in 2014 spent about $470 million on U.S. ad spending, according to Ad Age's Datacenter. Its biggest brand by spending is Clorox, followed by Hidden Valley, Burt's Bees and Glad.

For FCB, it's a return to the Clorox fold after a two-decade hiatus. FCB lost its Clorox business in 1996 as a casualty of winning the global account of rival SC Johnson. FCB lost SCJ following a 2011 review, so has no conflicts remaining.

"This agency review really came out of a large re-imagining of how marketing should work at Clorox," said Mr. Reynolds, a longtime Clorox executive who became CMO in early 2015. "It wasn't borne out of a profound or existential dissatisfaction with either Baldwin& or DDB or Swirl or Critical Mass. It was about how do we want to organize ourselves to meet the challenges of the future, and then what type of agency structure do we need."

Clorox has been working internally to break down silos to create multidisciplinary "brand studios," he said, and looked to make the agency structure work similarly.

"Speed is our biggest challenge," he said. "We are not fast. We have ambitions to be."

Clorox has been doing well in the market with its incumbent agencies, he said. The idea was to "do it at a time of strength rather than a time of fear and dissatisfaction," he said. "But we don't think we're mortgaging what we're good at either."

Finalists in a large review -- which Mr. Reynolds said was dubbed "Pitchapalooza" by one participant -- also included Venables, MullenLowe Group, Grey and Sid Lee. Mullen participated only on Hidden Valley and Sid Lee only on Burt's Bees. Grey, while it handles some Procter & Gamble Co. business in categories close to Clorox, got P&G's permission to participate, he said.

"It was a very difficult decision," he said. "All these agencies are working very hard to reimagine how to win in the future. DDB did very well in the review and in many cases we would have been happy with all of them. We of course had to pick a couple. But it gives me lots of hope and confidence for the industry that we're not afraid to change."

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