The company said the action is driven by a global effectiveness plan and, to a lesser extent, what a spokesman termed "significant savings in both media and production commissions."
Just a few days earlier last week, in a move underscoring its determination to become a global consumer-product player, Reckitt & Colman said it will dismiss more than 35 agencies and consolidate $230 million in business at McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York.
The Johnson move is an especially important win for True North because it lost $200 million in billings last month when Colgate-Palmolive Co. consolidated most of its billings at Young & Rubicam. True North also missed a chance to become one of two global agencies for Bayer AG at about the same time; Bayer decided to go with BBDO as its sole agency.
FCB already served as Johnson's lead agency, with close to $175 million in billings in 16 countries. In the U.S., it has handled brands including Raid, Glade, Pledge and Edge.
DDB NEEDHAM LOSES
The biggest loser last week was DDB Needham, which had $48 million in U.S. billings with brands including Windex and Drano, and at least another $20 million in international billings. JWT loses about $30 million in Latin America and the Far East.
The biggest U.S. loser in the Reckitt consolidation is Ammirati & Puris/Lintas, New York, which gives up $80 million in broadcast buying and the $40 million Lysol account. About $20 million to $40 million in non-global Reckitt brands remains at TBWA/Chiat Day, New York (Woolite), and Warwick Baker & Fiore (French's mustard, other food products).
"We needed an agency that could match us around the world, and there aren't many of those," said John Honey, Reckitt's global category director-surface care and disinfectants.
No pitch was held. McCann prevailed not only through its international muscle but through the persistence of David Warden, chairman of McCann's London Group, who worked with Reckitt Chief Executive Vernon Sankey as a brand manager in the early 1970s.
Reckitt, with $1.8 billion in sales in the first half of '95, operated a highly decentralized local and regional brand management system until 15 months ago.
With four consolidations coming in such rapid succession, more seem likely in 1996.
Of the four recent ones, each was won by a different network: Omnicom Group (Bayer); Young & Rubicam (Colgate-Palmolive); McCann (Reckitt); and True North (S.C. Johnson).
Ira Teinowitz and Jack Neff contributed to this story.