In Depth

OMD Wins Johnson & Johnson's Billion-Dollar Media-Buying Account

By Jack Neff, Advertising Age

Johnson & Johnson has moved its $1 billion-plus U.S. media buying account to OMD from Interpublic's J3, a J&J-dedicated unit of UM, the company said. J3 will continue to handle media planning, which is the larger piece of the media business from a revenue standpoint, a J&J spokeswoman said.

The move comes less than 19 months after J&J last reviewed its U.S. media business and less than two months since Kim Kadlec, who had been point person on that review, left her post as worldwide VP-global marketing of J&J to become head of relationship marketing at AOL. But the J&J spokeswoman said the change was unrelated to the departure of Ms. Kadlec, whose position at J&J hasn't been filled.

"We're shifting some of our focus from a marketing perspective from products to really looking at what consumers are looking for in media," the spokeswoman said. "We're taking a look at everything we're doing and trying to figure out the best mix."

The move follows the hiring late last year of former Coca-Cola executive Alison Lewis as the first chief marketing officer of J&J's consumer business, which, while smaller by revenue than the pharmaceutical and medical-device businesses, is by far the biggest media spender in the company. The media-buying account includes all the J&J U.S. businesses.

Ms. Kadlec's boss at J&J, Michael Sneed, continues in his role as VP-global corporate affairs overseeing marketing and communications throughout J&J.

Asked who made the decision on the media account, the spokeswoman said, "Our marketing leaders who have responsibility for what the marketing plan looks like across the enterprise made the decision based on the suite of offerings of each agency."

The shift is effective immediately. And while that would seem odd for many companies given that it comes in the middle of TV upfront negotiations, that's not a factor for J&J, which has opted out of the upfront for years.

Interpublic, the holding company behind J3 and UM, "remains a highly valued partner to Johnson & Johnson around the world and will continue to play an important role for us in the U.S. and globally," the company said in a statement.

"J3 is proud to continue to provide the most strategic services to J&J including strategy, planning, content development and activation," said a UM spokeswoman.

The move is a clear sign that the breakup of the Publicis Groupe-Omnicom merger earlier this month hasn't hurt Omnicom or OMD, at least when it comes to J&J.

Interpublic had expanded its role in the last round of J&J media assignments in 2012, picking up business in the Europe Middle East and Africa region and holding onto North America. But the holding company has lost much of its creative work with J&J in recent years, including the Tylenol account in 2010 and some lesser brands in a 2012 agency shuffle that favored WPP and Omnicom shops. Interpublic's Deutsch, however, remains on the creative roster with Acuvue, and digital shop R/GA has several J&J assignments.