Deal Could Expand J&J Roster

NEW YORK Johnson & Johnson’s pending $16.6 billion purchase of Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, the former Warner Lambert, may add two agencies to an already crowded J&J roster: WPP Group’s JWT, which handles brands such as Listerine, Purell and Sudafed, and Omnicom Group’s BBDO, which advertises Lubriderm, Rogaine and Nicotrol.

The Pfizer Consumer Healthcare sale price was larger than the $13 billion that observers had estimated the business was worth when Pfizer first said it was looking for a buyer in March. The deal, subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close by year’s end.

The move illustrates the divergent strategies of the two companies. Pfizer seeks to concentrate on its prescription drug businesses, led by Lipitor, which ranks among the world’s best-selling drugs.

J&J, conversely, continues to branch out into a range of personal care products. It already has an over-the-counter consumer drug division, its McNeil Consumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals unit, whose leading brand is Tylenol. J&J recently lost a bid to acquire Guidant, a stent maker, to Boston Scientific.

Other J&J roster shops include Interpublic Group’s Lowe (corporate image, baby products), McCann Erickson (eye care), Deutsch (Tylenol, St. Joseph’s) and Alchemy (Motrin, Immodium, Pepcid, feminine hygiene products); WPP Group’s Ogilvy & Mather (Beijing Olympics sponsorship in China); Omnicom Group’s DDB (international duties on Neutrogena) and Roberts & Tarlow (U.S. duties on Neutrogena); and independent Mother (Rembrandt toothpaste).