Reckitt Benckiser Puts Mucinex Up for Review

Finish and Air Wick Reviews Still On

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Reckitt Benckiser has added Mucinex to the list of brands for which it is reviewing creative duties, Ad Age has learned. This could mean an end to the repulsive Mr. Mucus and his clan who've starred in the brand's ads.

A Reckitt Benckiser spokesman declined to comment on the reviews or whether they had to do with market performance of the brands involved. Reviews for Air Wick and Finish are still ongoing.

Mucinex has been RB's top focus from an advertising perspective in recent years, according to Kantar Media data, reaching $92 million in measured media in 2012, but spending fell to $57 million last year. Mucinex has handled advertising in-house both before and after RB's 2007 acquisition of the brand along with the rest of Adams Respiratory Therapeutics.

Winning the account would be a key foothold for whatever agency gets it, as RB has been actively growing its OTC health business. It acquired Schiff in as well as such brands as Airborne and Mega Red. Earlier this year, it announced the acquisition of Johnson & Johnson's K-Y brand.

RB is also believed by analysts to be in the hunt for Merck's Claritin allergy and Coppertone sunscreen brands.

Overall, RB has been doing well globally, with organic sales up 3% last quarter. (Gains would have been higher if not for the loss of patent protection for its Suboxone treatment for opiate addiction, the company reported today.)

But the U.S. over-the-counter health, personal and household care business has had a downturn compared to strong growth a year ago, according to Nielsen scanner data for the 52 weeks ended March 15 from Deutsche Bank. Overall, RB's U.S. scanner sales were down 1.5% for the 52-week period. But scanner sales for the 12 weeks ended March 15 were down 7.4% compared to the same period last year.

A mild cold-flu season this year following a strong one last year was mainly responsible for Mucinex sales tumbling 13% for the 12-week period and 3% for the year, but the shifting tide of germs was only part of the story. The brand also lost 1.2 share points for the full year.

Clearasil, the brand whose review has ended with Havas retaining the business, has been an exception to the general company trend in the U.S., with sales and share performing better of late in the U.S. and accelerating. Overall, the brand's share is up 0.4% for the 52 weeks and 1.2 points for the latest four weeks, which saw sales climb a robust 12%.

Air Wick and Finish, the brands that remain in RB's global review, each have lost share over the past year as well as the most recent four- and 12-week periods, according to the Nielsen data.

RB overall spent $375.6 million in measured media last year, according to Kantar Media. In December, it named four shops to handle global media-planning and buying, including Aegis, Publicis, Havas and IPG Mediabrands.

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