NEW YORK Interpublic Group CEO Michael Roth has asked McCann Worldgroup CEO John Dooner to withdraw McCann Erickson from the pitch for Reckitt-Benckiser's $600 million global creative account because of a conflict with the S.C. Johnson account, which is handled by its Interpublic Group sibling Foote Cone & Belding, sources said.
"As always, we will honor all our commitments to our clients," said an IPG representative. The holding company declined further comment.
Reached after IPG's statement, McCann declined comment and referred further queries to the holding company.
Reckitt called the review in January with an eye toward reducing its roster agencies from three to two. The other contenders are WPP Group's JWT and Havas' Euro RSCG.
McCann was Reckitt's lead global agency until November 2001, five months after IPG bought FCB parent True North for $1.6 billion.
McCann had to resign the Reckitt account because of the S.C. Johnson conflict, and the latter had an understanding with IPG that prohibited its agencies from taking on competing business from Reckitt.
Although that agreement still holds, said sources, McCann recently became a Reckitt roster shop again when the company acquired Boots HealthCare, a McCann London account. That business has no correlation with any S.C. Johnson business.
When it was learned, however, that the current Reckitt pitch involved brands that compete with S.C. Johnson and could evolve into a winner-take-all scenario, IPG asked that McCann abide by a handshake agreement forged in 2001 between S.C. Johnson and then IPG CEO Dooner and withdraw from the process, sources said.
With an estimated global media spend of upwards of $500 million, S.C. Johnson is FCB's largest global account, and the relationship dates back to 1953. Its products include Pledge, Raid, Glade, Shout, Windex, Ziploc and Drano.
Reckitt's product roster includes Lysol, Easy-Off, Old English and Woolite.
S.C. Johnson is based in Racine, Wis., and had no comment. A Reckitt representative responded via a voicemail that it would not comment on the review.