WRG Resigns Clairol Business

By Hank Kim and Michael McCarthy

NEW YORK–Wells Rich Greene BDDP has resigned Bristol-Myers Squibb’s $25 million Clairol Herbal Essence shampoo account, the client confirmed last week.

WRG’s resignation of the New York-based BMS brand was prompted by a conflict with its Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble client, sources said. The agency handles P&G’s Oil of Olay, Gain laundry detergent and Pringles chips.

‘When we entered the body-wash category with Herbal Essence, we realized there could be a potential conflict for WRG with the shampoo brand,’ said Patricia Bellinger, BMS associate director of public affairs. ‘We’ve been pleased with WRG’s work on Herbal Essence, but came to a mutual agreement that the agency would no longer handle it.’

Four midlevel staffers in the agency’s New York office have been dismissed as a result, sources said.

Bellinger would not comment on the agency’s duties, but sources said WRG handled creative and strategic development. Spot TV buying is done by Zenith Media, New York, while network TV and print buying is handled by the client in-house.

WRG chief executive Frank Assumma declined to comment on the move.

Bellinger said the shampoo account has not yet been reassigned. The client will consider its other roster shops for the work. Those agencies include J. Walter Thompson and Bozell Worldwide, both in New York.

JWT had handled Herbal Essence shampoo prior to WRG, but that ended due to a conflict with client Unilever, sources said.

Bozell currently handles the Herbal Essence body-wash assignment and some other BMS brands, sources said.

WRG had picked up other BMS assignments in the past year from its Mead Johnson division as well as other Clairol brands. WRG will retain the assignments for Clairol’s Hydrience and Natural Instincts, and still has more than $100 million in total billings from BMS…… –with Noreen O’Leary and Matt Surman

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