Gillette Holds Talks With Shops on Duracell

NEW YORK — Officials at Gillette have been taking meetings with roster and nonroster agency executives during the past few weeks about its $40 million Duracell account currently handled by BBDO, sources said. It is unclear whether the meetings were about the existing account or new assignments.

At least three shops have met with the client recently. McCann-Erickson, which handles Duracell in parts of Europe, the Asia Pacific region and Latin America, is on the roster for other Gillette accounts. Sources said McCann has been courting Duracell for more than a year. One reason talks may have heated up is because Gillette recently relocated Ed Shirley, head of marketing in Europe-where McCann handles other Gillette accounts-to its Boston headquarters.

Sources said executives from Ogilvy & Mather, New York, have also recently met with client executives in Boston about Duracell. Ogilvy handles the brand in parts of Latin America and held the U.S. account before it moved to BBDO, New York, without a review, in 1998.

Grey met with Gillette executives in Boston last week, sources said. The nature of that meeting was unclear.

And last month, Gillette CEO James Kilts said he planned to focus more on the battery unit’s profits.

According to company documents, Duracell sales were $332 million in the first quarter of 2002, down 3 percent from the same period last year. Duracell sales in the first quarter of 2001 fell 14 percent from the same period in 2000.

BBDO handles the bulk of Gillette’s U.S. advertising, about $165 million in billings, for such products as deodorant and Oral B toothcare products. It also handles Duracell in parts of Asia and Europe. Global media spending for Gillette is estimated at $500-600 million.

A Duracell representative said the account is not in review and Duracell executives are not meeting with agencies beyond BBDO. Executives at the shops declined comment.