DraftFCB loses $1bn as SC Johnson hedges its bets on Ogilvy & Mather and Energy BBDO

Household products giant SC Johnson has concluded its marathon agency review by splitting its $400m US and global $1bn account between WPP’s Ogilvy & Mather and Omnicom’s Chicago outpost Energy BBDO. This brings to an end a 50-year relationship with FCB, now part of Interpublic’s Chicago-based agency DraftFCB.

So there’s some consolation for Chicago, which recently saw Sears’ $300m account depart for New York’s Mcgarrybowen but not for Draft or Interpublic, whose media agencies have also lost out.

Media has been carved up between WPP and Omnicom too with Omnicom’s OMD handed global media planning with buying through WPP umbrella firm Group M and its subsidiary Maxus, all of which looks a surefire recipe for disaster.

If there is a logic to carving up the business between two such bitter rivals it could be that this is just the first part of the pitch completed with Omnicom and WPP set to slug it out to see who finally ends up with the account, one of America’s biggest.

The whole process seems to have started when long-serving DraftFCB president Mark Modesto and two of his close associates were fired last August, a process that always looked likely to destabilise SC Johnson, which duly announced a review in December.

Interpublic must have been confident that its new team in Chicago, headed by Michael Fassnacht and Mark Pacchini, could win round Pledge maker Johnson but not even the promise of a new creative director, Todd Tilford who joins from Grey New York this month, could do the trick.

It didn’t work and Modesto and co’s exit is surely one of the most expensive in advertising history. Agencies over the years have done this time and time again and, time and time again, clients have shown that they don’t like losing their top account handlers.

FCB and Draft, previously a direct marketing agency, merged back in 2006. since then the company has always looked like a bit of a camel (horse designed by a committee). It will be interesting to see what Interpublic does to try and mend its fortunes.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.