Tylenol Looks To Ease Its Pain

Tylenol is still the top brand-name pain reliever in the U.S., but its lead is shrinking. That was the catalyst—and likely will be the strategic challenge for agencies—that led the company to launch its first creative review in more than two decades last week, sources said.

Publicis Groupe’s Saatchi & Saatchi in New York has handled the $115 million account, owned by Johnson & Johnson’s McNeil Consumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals division in Fort Washington, Pa., since 1975. But sales of its core brand were down 10 percent last year, according to IRI in Chicago. Sales of No. 2 Advil and No. 3 Aleve also retreated last year, but by smaller percentages.

McNeil roster shop Alchemy, a unit of Interpublic Group’s Lowe, broke a spot last week for Tylenol Sinus—which Saatchi usually handles—and is among the review’s contenders, sources said. (Alchemy handles McNeil brands such as Motrin and Immodium.) Other contenders: IPG shops Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos in Boston, Deutsch in New York and The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va.; Omnicom Group’s TBWA\Chiat\Day in New York; and possibly others. Saatchi is expected to defend.

Client meetings are slated for this week, with a cut to finalists expected shortly thereafter, sources said. A decision is expected by November.

The shops either declined comment or did not return calls. A client rep declined comment on Friday.

Sources said key decision makers include Tylenol marketing director John McDonagh and Ashley McEvoy, McNeil’s vp of marketing.