One of medical advertising’s oldest shops – KPR, founded in 1962 – will cease to operate as an independent agency, having lost most of its business in the Johnson & Johnson advertising consolidation.

The KPR brand could live on under the umbrella of an Omnicom sibling, said Pat Sloan, SVP and corporate director for Omnicom’s Diversified Agency Services group. Some of KPR’s core staff of around 40 may be transferred to other Omnicom agencies, including Harrison & Star, while others will be let go.

“It’s still an iconic brand,” said Sloan. “The aim is that it could live on under another network. We’re looking to redistribute talent wherever possible and minimize layoffs.”

The Omnicom professional shop, once one of the biggest names in medical advertising, had shrunk to a shadow of its former self in recent years. Its largest account was golimumab, a premarket human monoclonal antibody being developed by J&J’s Centocor for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. WPP’s Sudler & Hennessey will take on that business, sources said, and KPR’s remaining assignments, including smaller accounts from Schering-Plough and Jazz Pharmaceuticals, could migrate to other Omnicom agencies.  

The agency’s much larger Omnicom sibling Cline, Davis & Mann had a lot of J&J business, but boasts a broad client base and is well-equipped to weather the losses. Other big J&J agencies losing business in the consolidation include Razorfish and inVentiv’s GSW.

J&J consolidated the advertising business on its prescription drug brands into WPP and Interpublic Group several weeks ago, following a three-month pitch pitting the winning holding companies against Omnicom, Publicis, HAVAS and inVentiv.

KPR was founded in 1962 by John Kallir, Jerry Phillips and MM&M editor-at-large Warren Ross. The shop’s early successes included the launches of Haldol and Motrin, as well as a groundbreaking professional campaign that propelled Tylenol from sleepy treatment for pediatric fever to top-selling OTC analgesic. More recent assignments have included Sanofi-Aventis’ Ketek and the launch of J&J’s Risperdal Consta.