CLOSE-UP: LIVE ISSUE/HAVAS AND P&G - Arnold emerges as Havas' weapon in P&G's rejig. P&G's decision to shift work into Arnold could mark a sea change

Havas' bid to satisfy its shareholders, after having lost dollars

100 million worth of Procter & Gamble billings from its Euro RSCG

Worldwide network two years ago, has been given a lift with last week's

news that it has re-established a firm footing on P&G's agency

roster.



P&G has never been famous for taking a creative advertising approach,

but its return to Havas, and its Arnold Worldwide Partners network,

could be read as a shift towards greater creativity. Arnold's agencies

include the creatively led members of the former Campus network, such as

Britain's WCRS and France's devarrieuxvillaret.



The famously secretive P&G has so far offered no explanation for its

decision to shift the Bounty kitchen towels business into Arnold last

week (Campaign, 16 March). And agency personnel involved in the business

were reluctant to go on record about potential changes to agency

arrangements.



This reserve has led to speculation running rife; wilder rumours include

a suggestion that the sole reason for Arnold's existence is to capture a

slice of the P&G pie. More measured theories suggest a degree of

opportunism on the part of Havas.



Arnold needs to build bulk to compete with the heavyweight multinational

networks more commonly found on the rosters of the likes of P&G. And

last week's news of its acquisition of the New York-based Jordan McGrath

is a good place to start. Jordan McGrath, which already holds the US

Bounty account, was in Havas' Euro RSCG network. By shifting Jordan into

the Arnold network, Havas signaled its intention to position Arnold as a

P&G network.



Arnold is composed of successful local agencies that, to date, have

lacked a global image. Bringing them together last October, under the

leadership of Boston-based Ed Eskandarian, Arnold's chairman and chief

executive, was the first step towards building a large-scale network

with a creative edge.



It won't all be plain sailing, though. The Arnold network comprises a

federation of independent local agencies whose work with competitors in

local markets will mean numerous conflicts with P&G throughout the

network.



Whether Arnold's emergence on the P&G roster represents a threat to

other P&G roster networks, which include Grey, Leo Burnett, D'Arcy and

Saatchi & Saatchi, remains to be seen. Many feel that it won't.



A senior executive at one P&G agency says: 'My belief is that this isn't

a major shift by P&G. The company is very closely aligned with its

global network partners, although on a national basis there will always

be comings and goings. It would be very difficult for Havas to rebuild

its relationship. I see no likely change within the global agency

alignments.'



Still, Havas' shift of Jordan McGrath into Arnold from the Euro RSCG

network gives Boston's Arnold a higher profile in New York and could

enable Arnold to lever more P&G business into the network. 'Nothing

further specific has been discussed with Arnold to date,' one P&G agency

insider says.



'But no doubt they hope that further business will follow.' And it seems

logical that, as a consequence, the various other agencies in the Arnold

network should pick up local Bounty business.



P&G's ditching of Euro RSCG Worldwide from its global agency roster in

1999 brought a 43-year-old relationship to an abrupt end. The move

reduced P&G's networks to four, although it kept Jordan McGrath on its

books.



A P&G agency executive comments: 'P&G had five networks until Euro

screwed up. But Jordan McGrath has been a good agency for them and the

change of ownership allows P&G to get back to where it was before. This

is a tidying up, and P&G has a lot of business to spread around.'



How much of the prized P&G pie is up for grabs, though? Although P&G

has, in the past, appeared to prefer larger bedfellows for its very

global stable of brands, the appointment of a smaller, more creative

network could facilitate more creative, local advertising.



P&G's biggest rival, Unilever, has been appointing creative hotshops for

quite some time. Bartle Bogle Hegarty, HHCL & Partners and Mother all

hold high-profile positions on Unilever's international roster.



P&G's recent advertising through D'Arcy for the paper brand Charmin

represented a departure for its more traditional product-led advertising

and contravened every traditional P&G rule for how advertising should

work. The sketchy drawing of the cartoon bear proved something of a

breakthrough from the tired pan-European style of advertising. And a

change of approach is needed if P&G is to bolster paper brands such as

Charmin, Always and Pampers, which are facing pressure to perform after

share gains from rivals.



The appointment of Arnold to the international Bounty account is a

logical step for both P&G and Havas. Such an appointment will give

Arnold the critical mass it requires if it is to become a heavyweight

network - and replace some of the billings Havas lost when Euro RSCG was

sacked from the P&G roster.



For P&G, the appointment provides a fifth global network, and one that

offers a more creatively led approach than some of its rivals.



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