$150 Mil. Kao Media Planning Shifts to Initiative

NEW YORK Kao Brands, the marketer of the Jergens skin-care line among other products, has confirmed consolidating media chores at Interpublic Group’s Initiative.

The client spent $150 million on domestic ads in 2006 and $100 million through the first eight months of 2007, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Kao confirmed the shift, which was initially reported earlier today by Adweek.com. Judy Beaudry, marketing services director at Kao, said, “The media assignment move is the culmination of a strategy shift for Kao. Kao elected to put media buying and planning together in one shop to simplify work on our business.”

Initiative, the buying incumbent, now takes over planning, which had been handled by Media Kitchen in New York, a unit of MDC’s Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners. KB+P remains the lead creative on the business; those chores were not part of the review. Digital advertising duties, both creative and media, remain with Enlighten.

Melissa Gordon will lead the account at Initiative, sources said. She joined the shop here last month as svp, business director from Havas’ MPG, where she ran the GlaxoSmithKline planning assignment, overseeing brands such as Tums, Nicorette, Nicoderm and Commit. She also helped Glaxo launch Alli, credited with being the first over-the-counter weight loss product approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Kao’s U.S. headquarters is in Cincinnati. The parent company is based in Tokyo. Along with Jergens, client brands include John Frieda, Curel, Ban and Biore.