InterPublic Group-owned McCann Erickson has been forced to step down from Reckitt Benckiser’s &£350m global advertising pitch, following a major row over client conflict with FCB Worldwide.
The sister agency FCB handles rival household goods company SC Johnson, thought to generate an estimated income of $60m (&£32m).
SC Johnson is FCB’s biggest client and is understood to have a contractual agreement with IPG that blocks all of its agencies from pitching for rival businesses, including Reckitt Benckiser, Procter & Gamble and Sara Lee.
The situation has arisen because IPG-owned McCann Erickson was battling it out with JWT and Euro RSCG to win a place on Reckitt’s roster.
McCann joined the Reckitt roster earlier this year following its acquisition of Boots Healthcare International (BHI). As part of the deal, Reckitt, which owns the Dettol and Finish brands, also acquired Clearsil, Strepsils and E45 skincare.
Insiders suggest that McCann Erickson’s move to pitch for Reckitt’s business was seen as a”breach of contract”, and that SC Johnson put pressure on IPG to resign the account.
The move sees history repeating itself. McCann was forced to resign Reckitt over a similar conflict in 2001. At the time Reckitt ended its relationship with the agency after IPG’s acquisition of True North and its subsidiary FCB.
It is not clear whether McCann Erickson will continue to handle the BHI business in the UK, which does not represent any conflict with SC Johnson.
FCB Worldwide chief executive and president Steve Blamer declined to comment.