McCann Attends U.K. Reckitt Pitch

A week after Interpublic Group CEO Michael Roth told McCann Erickson to exit the $600 million global Reckitt Benckiser review, the shop showed up at the client’s London headquarters on pitch day with presentation materials in hand, sources said.

IPG said McCann simply used its two hours on Thursday to present work on its existing Reckitt assignment, but sources pointed out that the assignment—former Boots Healthcare brands, such as Clearasil, which Reckitt acquired in January— is part of the review. What’s more, McCann’s team included New York chairman Nina DiSesa, though it’s the shop’s London office that handles Reckitt, said sources.

“McCann was merely delivering finished materials they had previously committed … nothing more,” an IPG representative said.

Roth’s directive stemmed from IPG’s ’01 agreement with Reckitt rival S.C. Johnson—the largest global client of McCann sister shop Foote Cone & Belding—under which IPG shops would not take on competing Reckitt business. At the time, then Reckitt lead agency McCann had resigned its creative business so FCB could keep S.C. Johnson, a $300 million account for which it handles both creative and media duties. The Boots deal, however, put McCann back on Reckitt’s roster, and the review raised anew the conflict issue.

The McCann–IPG–S.C. Johnson episode has at times overshadowed an already high-profile pitch involving roster shops from three holding companies. The other contenders are WPP Group’s JWT and Havas’ Euro RSCG. A decision is expected in June.

Should McCann withdraw, the client will have to reconsider its plan to trim its roster from three to two shops. It may decide to keep JWT and Euro RSCG and reassign McCann’s business, or consolidate everything at one shop, said sources. The client declined comment, and McCann referred calls to IPG.