NEW BRUNSWICK, New Jersey: With its $3 billion (€2.22bn; £1.51bn) global media buying and planning account currently up for grabs, Johnson & Johnson is following the 'back to basics' trail blazed last month by Procter & Gamble.

P&G, whose global ad budget (circa $6.8bn) is over twice that of J&J, last month moved all advertising and marketing responsibilities for its Oral B brand to a dedicated new multi-skilled team within Publicis Groupe [WARC News: 04-Apr-07].

As we observed at the time: "The project's progress will be tracked with considerable interest by those on both sides of the agency/client fence". And five weeks later J&J obligingly followed suit.

The healthcare giant has instructed all bidders for its business - among them agency holding companies Interpublic and Omnicom - to pitch on the basis of creating a special unit to handle both communicat-ions planning and consumer-research duties.

If the new single-unit strategy is successful, says J&J global media director Kim Kadlec, the company might in future go the whole hog, folding all media planning functions back into the creative agencies.

"We could get to the point where we just fold it, but for now this [the brief for the current pitch] is just the next logical step."

Meantime, industry observers note that the pendulum of adland fashion gradually continues its reverse swing, back toward the pre-90s when marketers entrusted all ad and marketing duties - research, creative, media planning-buying, promos, PR and direct marketing - to a single agency.

As Publicis supremo Maurice Lévy probably never said: 'Plus ça change, plus ça même chose.'

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