Jergens to Hire Search Consultant

The Andrew Jergens Co. is close to hiring a search consultant, sources said, signaling a potential review of the account now at Interpublic Group’s Lowe.

Cincinnati-based Jergens spent $75 million in U.S. media in 2002, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR. But sources said the $20 million account of Jergens’ sister company, John Frieda Professional Hair Care, which is also handled by Lowe, could become part of the consultant’s assignment as well. (Kao Corp. in Tokyo is the parent of both Jergens and Frieda.)

Lowe has been absorbing Bozell’s accounts since IPG began merging it with Bozell in February. Bozell handled Jergens’ Ban, Bioré, Curel and Jergens brands, and in November landed the Wilton, Conn.-based Frieda account.

There has been no recent management change at the client, nor is there a category-specific conflict between the Jergens products and Lowe’s $75 million in Johnson & Johnson business, which includes baby products, corporate-image ads, Motrin, Splenda and birth-control drugs. Most of the J&J business is housed in Lowe subsidiary Alchemy, which has separate management and profit-and-loss responsibilities. But one source said the client has an “emotional” conflict with J&J.

Brad Kirk, vice president of marketing at Jergens, could not be reached. Tom Bernardin, U.S. president and COO of Lowe, was unavailable, and an agency rep declined comment. An IPG rep did not return calls.