Clorox and DDB Part Ways After Two Decades

Move Follows Agency Review Begun Late Last Year

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Clorox: Bleachable Moments - Distance Contest
Clorox: Bleachable Moments - Distance Contest 

Clorox is parting ways with DDB after a 20-year relationship, Ad Age has learned.

The move comes after a review for creative that began late last year, though winners of the business being lost by DDB couldn't be immediately verified. Clorox currently works with Baldwin& on Burt's Bees, but the status of that business wasn't immediately known.

Clorox's other agencies include digital shops like Omnicom sibling Critical Mass and WPP's AKQA.

"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."

On DDB's watch, Clorox has broken free of typically bland cleaner advertising the past two decades to run increasingly funny ads, including "Bleachable moments" ads featuring kids involved in various disgusting bathroom acts remedied by chlorine-bleach-based cleaners. They've also been effective, with Clorox's sales for the 52 weeks ended March 8 were up nearly 4%, according to Nielsen data from Deutsche Bank, roughly double the company's categories, with share gains in about two thirds of its categories, most of those handled by DDB.

Clorox declined to comment.

Most of the business of DDB's San Francisco office reportedly comes from Clorox so it is unclear whether there will be layoffs. DDB re-opened the office in 1996 after winning about half of the marketer's business; it won the other half of the account formerly handled by Y&R the following year.

But Ms. Clark indicated that the San Franciso office will not close as a result of the loss. "Our commitment to our West Coast office and San Francisco specifically is unwavering. The market is thriving, our client roster is growing and new business opportunities are rich. Watch this space."

In addition to Clorox, the office handles work for ConAgra, Qualcomm, Cord Blood Registry, Nevro and Presidio Trust.

The move comes at a trying time for DDB, which will have to defend its work for McDonald's. The fast-feeder yesterday issued a request for proposals for its U.S. creative account, which is currently split between Leo Burnett and DDB. McDonald's said it hopes to move the business to one agency.

DDB earlier this year became the agency of record for Jeep and Alfa Romeo in the U.S.

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.

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