Gillette Starts ‘Review’ of Vendor Relationships

As part of a broad effort to gain cost efficiencies, Gillette will “review” the company’s relationships with outside vendors, including its dealings with agencies. The Boston-based company also intends to in crease global ad spending by an unspecified amount to jump-start sales.

That pronouncement from recently installed Gillette CEO James Kilts, delivered in New York last Wednesday at a meeting of analysts and investors, may lead to changes in the company’s agency roster and possibly signal a full-scale review for the client’s estimated $600 million global account, sources said.

BBDO, New York, has long been the company’s lead agency for creative and media; Lowe Lintas & Partners, also New York, works on Braun and other products.

Gillette vp/communications Eric Kraus insisted there is no plan to review any portion of the client’s ad account. “I’m unaware of any plans at this time to do any advertising reviews,” he said, adding that Kilts himself was “not giving interviews” on any subject related to the company’s effort to reverse its fortunes.

Kilts praised BBDO’s recent launch work for the Gillette Venus women’s shaving system, calling it the highest-testing company advertising in recent memory.

Kilts said overall ad spending must rise, but didn’t say by how much, and he indicated that poorly selling products (namely, the company’s Duracell line) will likely be eliminated. Gillette spent $50 million on Duracell ads last year, roughly one-third of its overall domestic ad budget, per CMR. BBDO handles Duracell.

Given Kilts’ history, industry insiders are expecting that at least some portion of the business will go into play. In 1998, after Kilts joined as CEO, Nabisco shifted its $20-30 million cracker business from 12-year incumbent McCann-Erickson, New York, to J. Walter Thompson, Chicago. Kilts had previously worked with JWT at agency client Kraft Foods. At Nabisco, Kilts initiated numerous marketing moves, including reviews for print media buying and co-marketing programs.