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Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. realigned its agency roster Friday, moving several brand assignments in Europe and the U.S. But in a surprise move, it didn't actually shrink the roster.

Wells Rich Greene BDDP and Bozell Worldwide, both New York, gained new assignments at the expense of J. Walter Thompson Co. (losing about $25 million in billings) and Gotham Inc. (losing $7 million). Grey Advertising held onto some business overseas.


The moves highlighted the increasing difficulty of managing client conflicts in an era of global marketing. As a large multinational marketer-but not one of the largest-Bristol-Myers found itself blocked from expanding accounts overseas with its global agencies- JWT, Grey and DDB Needham Worldwide-because they're already aligned with competitors in many countries.

WRG added Clairol's $4 million Natural Instincts brand in the U.S. (from JWT) and Clairol in Western Europe (from Grey) to its $15 million Clairol Herbal Essence U.S. work. It will split the $20 million Mead Johnson account, formerly at JWT, with Bozell.


Bozell also gained the $7 million Ban antiperspirant account from Gotham and Excedrin PM from JWT. Bozell keeps its $50 million Excedrin business, while JWT keeps creative on the $50 million Clairol account in the U.S.

Gotham keeps $20 million in U.S. billings on brands such as Keri and Bufferin, and Grey keeps Clairol in Eastern Europe and Latin America, as well as Bufferin in Japan. DDB Needham didn't participate in the review; Bristol-Myers said the agency keeps assignments in Asia and Australia.

"Our objective in reassigning this business is to realign our brands and key categories by agency in order to provide marketing efficiencies in the globalization of our advertising and marketing program," said Peter Spengler, VP-marketing services at Bristol-Myers, which spends up to $400 million on ads worldwide.

Mr. Spengler wouldn't acknowledge that Bristol-Myers' objective going into the five-month review was a reduction in agencies. But executives at some of the shops involved said that was the message when the review started.

But conflicts got in the way. Since Bozell, Gotham and WRG don't have full worldwide networks, Bristol-Myers couldn't consolidate with them alone.

JWT is blocked in many countries by assignments from Unilever and Warner-Lambert Co. Grey is a global agency for Procter & Gamble Co.; DDB Needham handles Johnson & Johnson in many countries.

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