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
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
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
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
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
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
'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
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.