Huge S.C. Johnson account move expected this week

Some of S.C. Johnson’s household products that will be moving to another agency

We’re tempted to tag it the agency review of the century, if only because we heard  truly hysterical, seemingly brain-dead TV talking heads repeatedly refer to the now infamous Casey Anthony trial as “the trial of the century” while closing arguments were being given.


But whether or not the S.C. Johnson review indeed winds up being one of the most spectacular advertising events of the still relatively new century, two things are certain — the review is being closely watched by many advertising types, and it is going to be a really huge windfall for one of the four finalists that were believed to be vying for it.

The agencies technically still in the running until the winner is formally announced — which could happen as early as this week — are incumbent DraftFCB/Chicago, Energy BBDO/Chicago (whose bid is believed to be in conjunction with TBWA/Chiat/Day), Young & Rubicam and Ogilvy & Mather.

But the reality is the winner has already been selected. And as we have been reporting for several weeks now, Ogilvy & Mather is definitely the frontrunner, until there is a clear indication it isn’t.

Sources told us S.C. Johnson’s plan was to have the agency chosen by the end of its fiscal year on June 30, which was nearly two week ago.  In all likelihood, the past couple of weeks were spent ironing out what is sure to be a complicated contract for the business. The new contract no doubt will be spelled out in a manner certain to keep a lid on costs.

Needless to say, despite the intense interest, S.C. Johnson has refrained from discussing all aspects of the review involving upwards of $1 billion in billings.  That cloak of silence goes double, of course, for the agencies that have been hungering for the business for months.

On Monday, we tried to elicit a few words about the mood in the halls of incumbent DraftFCB/Chicago from chief spokesman Wally Petersen. But Petersen simply wouldn’t go there, primarily because he suspected we were trying to smoke out some sense of whether the shop is preparing — or has prepared — to lose an account that has resided at the agency for nearly 60 years.

“I don’t know how to answer that question about the mood of the agency, and I’m not going to discuss the review,” said Petersen, though he did admit to being in a rather good mood personally. 

The fact is (whether Peterson wants to go there or not), the loss of the S.C. Johnson business will hit DraftFCB hard.  And should the worst come to pass, DraftFCB will need a couple of high-profile, big wins quickly to have any hope of lessening the potential devastation the loss would represent in its Chicago office.

But if the best of all possible outcomes happens for Ogilvy & Mather, the agency will have much to celebrate.

It’s unclear exactly which outpost of the iconic shop would handle the brunt of the creative on the account. But however the S.C. Johnson business is divvied up inside the global agency, Ogilvy’s Chicago office certainly will play an integral part in servicing the business, if only because of its proximity to S.C.

Johnson’s corporate headquarters. S.C. Johnson could represent the biggest infusion of business at Ogilvy/Chicago since the Sears account, which the shop painfully lost several years ago.

So, even though we now know the outcome of the Casey Anthony trial, we still have our own verdict watch to endure.  At least for a (very) little while longer.


 Few advertising categories are more crowded — or more competitive – than distilled spirits. So to break through, it helps to have either a lot of marketing moola or, lacking that, a really clever advertising concept that will more than compensate for the absence of extra ad bucks.

While it may not be the advertising concept of the century (there we go again), Euro RSCG/Chicago certainly has introduced a TV campaign for a new line of flavored vodkas called Pucker that packs considerable punch.

The challenge for Euro was compounded by the fact it was working with an extremely limited time frame of 15 seconds for each spot promoting a different Pucker flavor, including apple and cherry.

Euro chief creative officer Jason Peterson and his crew opted for a concept that involves a massive explosion of liquid and glass in each short spot.

That explosion, in each instance, is prompted by a projectile, such as a cherry or apple, crashing into a filled martini glass or liquor bottle. The explosions are flashily presented and do create a visual finale that’s hard to ignore.

The print work in the Pucker campaign attempts to replicate as much as possible the imagery of the TV effort.  While the images are still fairly dramatic, the print work doesn’t quite equal the explosive TV commercials.

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