WPP's 'Chinese Walls' Fail to Reassure P&G

06 October 2005

Procter & Gamble has advised WPP Group's MindShare it is removing Gillette's estimated $800 million (€671m; £455m) global media planning and buying business.

The decision comes within days of the world's largest advertiser's formal completion of its $57 billion acquisition of the Gillette Company.

Underlying the pullout is MindShare's close association with P&G's arch rival Unilever, as the former's global cmo Jim Stengel freely admits.

"Mindshare is a big Unilever agency," says Stengel, who maintains that P&G can't allow such a conflict "in media [duties] where there's so much proprietary software." By which he means sensitive market-research data.

But for every loser there's a winner - or in this case three winners. Benefiting from MindShare's loss is Publicis Groupe's Starcom MediaVest which inherits Gillette's US media buying business, worth an estimated $400m annually.

Elsewhere on the globe, the balance will be split between P&G's regional agencies, among them WPP's Mediacom and Publicis Groupe's Zenith and Starcom MediaVest.

Gillette's creative work remains with Omnicom Group's BBDO, an agency "I have admired for years," according to Stengel. The emergence of this powerful new contender on P&G's creative roster is likely to trigger an outbreak of sweaty palm syndrome at fellow roster shops Grey Worldwide, Leo Burnett and Saatchi & Saatchi.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff