Abbott Labs Begins Media-Agency Review

A Chunk of $300 Million Account Is Up for Grabs

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Health-care giant Abbott Laboratories has begun a review for a large portion of its nearly $300 million media business, Ad Age has learned.

The review comes as Abbott Labs prepares to split into two publicly traded companies. One company will consist of diversified medical products and the other of research-based pharmaceutical products. It's understood that the pharmaceutical division, which accounted for about $18 billion in revenue when the company announced plans for the split last October, is holding the agency review. The medical products group reported $22 billion in annual revenue at the time.

WPP's Mindshare is the incumbent on the account and has worked with the company since early 2010. Prior to assigning Mindshare the business, the company worked with Publicis Groupe 's Starcom MediaVest Group.

Mindshare and Abbott declined to comment.

The Chicago-based pharmaceutical giant, which makes products in the pharmaceutical, medical devices and nutritionals categories, spent $285.7 million on U.S. measured media in 2011, according to Kantar Media.

This year, the pharma giant was ordered to pay $1.6 billion in fines for its off-label marketing of anti-seizure drug Depakote. The settlement marked one of the largest by a drug company in years, only trailing a $3 billion GlaxoSmithKline settlement last year and a $2.3 billion Pfizer settlement in 2009, according to numerous reports.

The timing of the review is not good for the firm, which has had a tough 2012. The shop retained the buying portion of its U.S. Unilever business, but this year it also lost its Sprint and Farmer's Insurance business to Publicis agencies.

It's also unclear at this time whether the company will expand or lose its share of the Lionsgate business. In January, Lionsgate acquired Summit Entertainment, a Mindshare client. So the agency has the chance to lose its existing business or win additional business through Lionsgate's agency-consolidation review that began this past September. In 2011, Summit spent $147.2 million on measured media, according to Kantar.

In the pharmaceutical category, Mindshare also works with German pharma giant Boehringer-Ingelheim.

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