Here’s How WPP Will Handle Sunscreen Rivals After Merck Win

JWT, BBDO add brands after Bayer acquires Merck

Bayer roster agencies BBDO and JWT have gotten richer in brand assignments via Bayer's acquisition of Merck. But for JWT to take on Coppertone—a big Merck brand that conflicts with existing business—parent company WPP Group had to create a separate unit.

The London-based unit, known as TeamLife, will include staffers from WPP's JWT and sister shops Geometry (activation) and Hogarth (production) and will work across all the Merck brands, not just Coppertone, according to sources. Meanwhile, the brands that conflict with Coppertone—Banana Boat and Hawaiian Tropic—will remain at JWT in New York.

The creative shift comes two months after WPP shop and Bayer agency MediaCom landed Merck's U.S. media business, with annual spending of $150 million. That account was previously handled by Interpublic Group’s Initiative.

JWT and BBDO declined to comment, referring calls to Bayer, which confirmed the brand shifts. Here’s a rundown of who got what:

  • Energy BBDO, Chicago, adds global work on Merck’s Claritin, Afrin and Dr. Scholl’s, in North America and Latin America, all of which had been handled by Havas. In the U.S. alone, media spending on the brands totaled $164 million last year, according to Kantar.
  • JWT picks up Coppertone (from Havas), Miralax (Publicis Kaplan Thaler) and Bayer’s Phillips (BBDO). Collectively, those brands spent about $50 million in media last year, according to Kantar.