J&J to Send Carat Packing

NEW YORK Aegis Group’s Carat will lose its estimated $250 million planning and buying assignment for Pfizer Consumer Health Care once Johnson & Johnson closes on its acquisition of the Pfizer unit by year’s end, a J&J rep confirmed today.

After the deal is completed, “Interpublic Group and OMD will handle planning and buying in North America for the J&J and Pfizer brands,” the rep said.

IPG’s Universal McCann currently handles J&J’s North American media chores, while Omnicom Group’s OMD works for the company mainly in the rapidly expanding market of China.

It is unclear how duties will be divided or how long the new assignments will remain in effect. Sources have said the client would hold a $2.5 billion global media review next year [Adweek Online, Nov. 20].

The rep declined comment on review plans.

He did say, however, that immediately after completion of the Pfizer deal, buying for brands overseas will be handled by UM.

At least for the short term, planning on the J&J and Pfizer brands remains at IPG’s Initiative and WPP Group’s MindShare, respectively, he said, except for China, where OMD already works for J&J and will add Pfizer duties from Carat.

The client’s roster shops have been expecting a review for several months, and have been re-examining their teams with an eye toward possible additions and changes, sources said.

Brian Perkins, vp of corporate affairs, and Kim Kadlec, vp of worldwide media, will oversee the competition.

J&J’s portfolio of well-known consumer brands includes Aveeno, Band-Aid, Neutrogena, Splenda and Tylenol.

The company reported worldwide sales for the first nine months of 2006 of more than $39 billion.

Pfizer Consumer Health Care had sales close to $4 billion in 2005. Its key brands are Nicorette, Listerine, Lubriderm, Neosporin, Sudafed and Visine, among others.

J&J made headlines earlier this year when it sat out the upfront television market, unusual for an advertiser of its size. But the TV networks have since reported the company is buying time in the scatter market.

The client has been to examining its advertising practices. For example, the company last year bypassed its roster of creative agencies when it selected ideas from Time Warner for use in its corporate image campaign. At the time, Brian Perkins, J&J’s vp of corporate affairs, said agencies must “explore new forms of connection and collaboration” or risk being left behind.