J&J takeover threat to JWT Pfizer account

JWT’s grip on Pfizer’s multimillion pound over-the-counter healthcare account is in doubt following Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) acquisition of the company.

J&J became the world’s largest consumer healthcare company earlier this week after outbidding rivals GlaxoSmithKline and Reckitt Benckiser to pay $16.6bn (&£8.9bn) for the business.

The deal concluded a five-month auction, and will see J&J take control of Pfizer’s OTC brands, which include Listerine mouthwash and Sudafed decongestant. In the UK the Pfizer account is worth &£5m.

Pfizer consolidated its global advertising for the business into JWT in August 2003. The agency already handled its Calpol and Listerine brands at the time. J&J, however, is reviewing the agency arrangements and is likely to shift the business into one of its roster networks.

It uses Interpublic Group’s Lowe Worldwide for the bulk of its advertising, including its skincare and Johnson’s Baby ranges, and sister IPG network McCann Erickson for its Band-Aid and Acuvue contact lens brands.Omnicom’s DDB network is the incumbent on the RoC, Neutrogena, Clean&Clear and Evian Affinity skincare ranges.

J&J has yet to make any announcement, but Lowe’s grip on the business is thought to have been weakened by the departure of Andrew Langer, global creative director on the J&J account and former vice-chairman of Lowe Worldwide, who left to join US agency Roberts & Tarlow.

â¢Separately, JWT is still in the running for Reckitt Benckiser’s &£350m global advertising account, which is split between JWT, Havas’ Euro RSCG and IPG’s McCann Erickson. Reckitt is thought to have a made a decision, and is set to announce the result this week.

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