J&J yanks $85M in business from Saatchi

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A week after eliminating Saatchi & Saatchi, New York, from the $100 million Tylenol review, Johnson & Johnson is pulling its Pepcid, Mylanta and St. Joseph aspirin brands-a combined $85 million in media spending-out of the agency.

A spokeswoman from Johnson & Johnson's McNeil Consumer and Specialty Pharmaceutical division, which handles the brands, said she "can't comment on any speculations." But one executive from the marketer cited a fractured relationship between the client and the agency and said, "Saatchi took its eye off the ball."

Executives from Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi confirmed the brands were leaving the agency.

Saatchi had the Tylenol account for 28 years, but was cut from the review last week when McNeil chose Interpublic Group of Cos.' shops Deutsch, New York; Hill Holliday Connors Cosmopulos, Boston; and Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., for a three-way shootout.

It is not known if J&J and McNeil will put the Pepcid, Mylanta and St. Joseph brands up for review or simply assign them to other agencies. Executives close to the Tylenol review believe that the agencies that are not awarded the Tylenol account will end up with a combination of these other brands.

One executive familiar with the matter noted that Alchemy, a specialty shop that reports through Interpublic's Lowe, New York, currently handles several McNeil brands and also stands a good chance of getting additional business. Rich Pounder, president-CEO, Alchemy, referred calls to the client.

J&J spent $48.6 million in measured media last year on the heartburn and acid indigestion medication Pepcid, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR. Mylanta, another heartburn medication, had $16.6 million in spending last year, and St. Joseph had $20.5 million. Saatchi is expected to lay off staff as a result of the account losses. An agency spokesman would not comment.

Executives familiar with the McNeil-Saatchi relationship said the relationship simply deteriorated over the years out of neglect.

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