Roth Asks McCann to Withdraw From $600 Mil. Reckitt Review

NEW YORK IPG CEO Michael Roth last week asked McCann Worldgroup CEO John Dooner to withdraw McCann Erickson from this week’s pitch for Reckitt-Benckiser’s $600 million global creative account because of a conflict with the S.C. Johnson account, which is handled by its IPG sibling Foote Cone & Belding, sources said. “As always, we will honor all our commitments to our clients,” said an IPG rep. Reached after IPG’s statement, McCann declined comment and referred further queries to the holding company. Reckitt called the review in January with an eye toward reducing its roster agencies from three to two. The other contenders are WPP Group’s JWT and Havas’ Euro RSCG. McCann was Reckitt’s lead global agency until November 2001, five months after IPG bought FCB parent True North for $1.6 billion. McCann had to resign the Reckitt account because of the S.C. Johnson conflict, and the latter had an understanding with IPG that prohibited its agencies from taking on competing business from Reckitt. Although that agreement still holds, said sources, McCann recently became a Reckitt roster shop again when the company acquired Boots HealthCare, a McCann London account. That business has no correlation with any S.C. Johnson business. S.C. Johnson is based in Racine, Wis., and had no comment. A Reckitt rep declined comment.

5 Finalists Pitch $30 Mil. Tamiflu This Week

NEW YORK Roche executives are set to hear final presentations later this week from five finalists, including four New York shops, for its Tamiflu prescription drug account, estimated at $30 million in billings, sources said. IPG’s Foote Cone & Belding, Publicis’ The Kaplan Thaler Group, independents Digitas and Avenue A/Razorfish, all New York, and independent GSW in Columbus, Ohio, will present ideas on positioning Tamiflu as a preventative flu treatment, sources said. The agencies either could not be reached or referred calls to the Nutley, N.J., client, which declined comment. Tamiflu had a media spend in 2005 of $2 million, per TNS Media Intelligence.

Talks Continue, Clients Briefed On Possible Draft-FCB Merger

NEW YORK Talks proceeded last week regarding a potential merger of IPG’s Foote Cone & Belding and Draft. As previously reported, the holding company is mulling an alliance or merger between the two agencies. Key clients, including Verizon and S.C. Johnson, have been briefed and told a merger is “likely,” one source said. Meanwhile, CSFB analyst Debra Schwartz last week came out in favor of a possible merger. Schwartz wrote that an alliance would provide greater client service in a media-fragmented market and strengthen FCB’s positioning. Her concerns involved the effect on IPG of potential severance payouts and uncertainty about whether Draft CEO Howard Draft or FCB CEO Steve Blamer would take the lead position, even though sources point to Draft as the front-runner for CEO. As such, FCB staffers have expressed unease about the possibility that Draft would dominate a merged entity, sources said. Executives from FCB and Draft declined to comment.

Agencies Competing for $45 Mil. Centrum Present Options

NEW YORK Wyeth Laboratories has asked agencies vying for its $45 million Centrum account to present ideas for both an over-arching brand campaign and separate efforts for each of its vitamin and nutrition products, sources said. The Madison, N.J., client briefed WPP’s Grey, Publicis’ The Kaplan Thaler Group and IPG’s McCann Erickson, all New York, on the assignment last week and set presentations for early June, sources said. The incumbent, independent Carrafiello Diehl & Associates in Irvington, N.Y., is said to be defending the business, but the agency did not return calls seeking comment. The other shops either could not be reached or referred calls to the client, which also declined comment.

Rodés Expected to Replace Brother as MPG CEO

NEW YORK Havas media network MPG is expected to appoint Alfonso Rodés worldwide chief executive officer, according to sources. Rodés currently serves as chief corporate development officer of MPG and CEO of MPG Spain. (The company is based in Barcelona.) He would succeed his brother, Fernando, who was elevated in March to chief executive of Havas by chairman Vincent Bolloré, the French entrepreneur who took control of the holding company last summer. According to sources, Fernando Rodés has told Havas staffers that Alfonso would succeed him, possibly as early as June. For now, however, Fernando retains the title of CEO while running the holding company, which also owns agency networks Arnold and Euro RSCG.

Petco Kicks Off $30 Mil. Creative Review, Seeks Marketing Head

LOS ANGELES Petco has launched a review for the creative portion of its ad account and is seeking a new chief marketing executive, the company acknowledged last week. The San Diego-based company is talking to a “long list” of undisclosed agencies nationwide, a client representative said, but he declined to disclose the names of shops or discuss other details. The client spent $30 million last year in measured media, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. The Phelps Group, an independent shop in Los Angeles, is the incumbent and will defend, the rep said. Recent Petco ads from the shop have shown store employees “trying out” products such as cat condos and giant chew toys.

Concept Farm, Media Kitchen Win BMW Motorcycles Account

NEW YORK The Concept Farm has landed creative duties on BMW Motorcycles’ estimated $7 million marketing account, the client confirmed. The New York independent bested two other finalists: independent Brooklyn Brothers and the G2 unit of WPP’s Grey Global Group, both in New York [Adweek Online, April 17]. Concept Farm pitched with The Media Kitchen unit of MDC’s Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners in New York, and Media Kitchen will handle media planning on the account, said Laurence Kuykendall, community and communications manager at BMW Motorcycles. Media buying duties remain at Icon International in Stamford, Conn.

NEW YORK Apple’s iPod brand strength has dipped according a new survey by Genius Insights, New York. The popular music player saw its “BrandPower” ranking fall from 263 in summer 2005 to 292 this spring. “There’s the beginning of a backlash against Apple. When you get to an airport lounge and there are 50 people who have them it loses its edge,” explained Genius Insights partner Paul Jenkins. The survey, conducted online, asks 3,000 U.S. men and women ages 13-49 to rank brands according to likability and awareness. The current study was conducted during the six months ending April 15. the top five brands were Hershey, M&M’s, Sony, Reese’s and Kraft.