IPG Folds Sandbox

Interpublic Group has quietly folded Sandbox, the New York-based unit it created three years ago to win a share of Johnson & Johnson’s communications planning duties in North America.
Unit president and chief creative officer Wayne Fletcher (pictured) and an assistant have joined IPG’s McCann Erickson, where Fletcher has assumed the new position of innovation partner.
The creation of Sandbox was key to IPG winning a significant chunk of the North American communications planning account, alongside Naked and WPP Group’s JWT. Initially, IPG staffed the unit with communication planners
from different types of agencies, including media shop Universal McCann and digital shop R/GA.
Sandbox subsequently added projects from Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (Hennessy) and Coca-Cola. The shop, however, failed to gain enough critical mass to operate on its own, and new McCann Worldgroup CEO Nick Brien wants communications planning to be integral to McCann’s offering, according to sources.
At McCann, Fletcher, 40, will continue to work on Hennessy and Coke as needed, an agency representative said. The J&J assignment has been absorbed by J3 — a 125-person unit of IPG’s Mediabrands that handles most of the holding company’s media business from J&J — and sister creative shops that work for the client.
In his new role at McCann, Fletcher is expected to forge connections between client brands and Hollywood, the music industry, technology companies, media owners and content-production firms.
“Wayne will be tasked with increasing the depth and breadth of our creative network and to connect us to the leading creative minds across many industries and to use those connections to help inspire new ideas and new solutions for clients,” said McCann New York president Thom Gruhler, to whom Fletcher reports.
Additionally, Fletcher will lead the development of new communications platforms that McCann can sell to clients. In this capacity, Fletcher will work with brand planners and creatives under the banner of Brand Farm.
Fletcher, who holds a doctorate in applied social psychology, described his role as being a “catalyst for different types of solutions via different partners,” adding, “Innovation will be a strategic imperative for the agency.”