BSB, Bozell compete for Bristol-Myers; DDB quits the biz

Backer Spielvogel Bates and Bozell are dueling for Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Excedrin business following DDB Needham’s resignation of all its Bristol billings. DDB’s move followed Bristol’s decision to reassign Excedrin, said sources.
Although Bristol-Myers Products executive vp Peter Dolan told DDB executives that Bristol had no current plans to pull other DDB brands, he did little to reassure DDB of its long-term future as a Bristol agency.
“We had a conversation where it became clear to us that for historical or for whatever reasons, our relationship was never going to be great,” said DDB executive vp Tony Wright. That prompted DDB’s resignation of all the Bristol business, which includes Excedrin P.M., Sea Breeze, Therapeutic Mineral Ice and Clairol Professional Products. The client called the decision a “mutual agreement.”
Most of the Bristol brands were inactive at DDB, though LNA reported that Excedrin P.M. received $12 million in ad support last year.
Sources said DDB brass became increasingly frustrated that the relatively small Bristol business was locking the agency out of the traditionally lucrative hair-care and analgesics categories.
Bristol is expected to soon name an agency for some, if not all, of the brands. Bristol would not comment on future agency assignments, nor would Bozell and BSB.
Bristol had long been reviewing creative for Excedrin from different agencies and although Bozell got the nod to produce a new Excedrin commercial earlier this year (ADWEEK, May 24), one source said, “I think they are looking very seriously at Backer.”
It was unclear at press time whether Johnson & Johnson, whose Tylenol brand is at Saatchi & Saatchi, would perceive BSB handling Excedrin as a conflict.
One source speculated that Bristol’s decision was being held up as that issue was being worked out.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)