JWT loses Reckitt task to Euro

Euro RSCG gains control of entire $1.5 billion business after McCann is also forced to withdraw.

JWT London is bracing itself for a round of cost-cutting measures and redundancies following the loss of its Reckitt Benckiser business to Euro RSCG Worldwide.

The German-based FMCG giant shocked adland last week when it changed tack in its ongoing global review and awarded its entire business - estimated to be worth $1.5 billion (£827 million) in global billings - to the Havas-owned network.

Reckitt, which owns household names including Harpic, Clearasil, Mr Sheen, Nurofen and Dettol, called a pitch in March this year.

As first revealed by Campaign (10 March), the healthcare giant was looking to reduce its roster from three networks to two.

Euro RSCG Worldwide and JWT Worldwide had approximately equal shares of Reckitt's advertising business. The remainder was held by McCann Erickson. McCann was included on the roster after Reckitt's purchase of the Boots Healthcare International business in October last year for £1.9 billion.

However, in the latter stages of the pitch, McCann was forced to pull out and resign its global Boots Healthcare International business after conflict with SC Johnson (held by McCann's sibling FCB) was flagged up.

Euro RSCG 's pitch was led by its worldwide chief executive, David Jones, and the chairman of the UK group, Kate Robertson. Creative was run by Mark Fiddes from the Euro RSCG Worldwide London office and Mike Lee in its New York shop.

Reckitt never told agencies that its entire business might be up for grabs and the brief was always that it would be shared by two networks.

The win is an endorsement of the Havas board's decision to promote Jones from his position of head of Euro RSCG in New York to the global position in August last year.

The Reckitt win is all the more unlikely as the FMCG business has never appointed single suppliers in any parts of its business.

The account will be run on the same lines as Euro RSCG's Peugeot business, with an internal pitching mechanism allowing separate Euro offices to compete for launch campaigns. Reckitt will also award creative briefs to agencies outside the Euro RSCG network on an assignment basis. The win will see Euro RSCG's London agency grow by £50 million in billings.

Jones said: "We are constantly looking at ways to improve our work. We're never satisfied with the status quo. In that respect, we are very similar to Reckitt."

The loss is blow to JWT's UK operation. The London agency will lose almost £30 million in UK billings, while its Cheethambell arm will lose £11 million in billings. The damage to the agency's income, however, will be more severe, as the global business was run from the UK.

Alison Burns, the JWT London chief executive, said: "Reckitt has gone on record as saying that JWT London and Cheethambell JWT have done a magnificent job for it. We are looking for the silver lining in a very black cloud and will continue to drive the agency forwards."

- Opinion, page 21.

BRAND Billings (£000s)
Cillit Bang 7,081
Dettol 4,166
Harpic 4,466
Lemsip* 4,334
Mr Sheen 1,532
Veet 6,441
Brasso **
Disprin **
Steradent **
TOTAL 28,020

BRAND Billings (£000s)
Bonjela 1,673
Gaviscon 6,695
Senokot 2,705
Codis **
Disprin **
Disprol **
Fybogel **
Temgesic **
TOTAL 11,073

BRAND Billings (£000s)
Clearasil 757
Karvol 263
Nurofen 8,146
Optrex 1,118
Strepsils 1,004
TOTAL 11,288

*Shared with Cheethambell
**Not backed by above-the-line spend in 2005
Source: Nielsen Media Research 4thQ 2005.

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