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Carat Picks Up More Work From Pfizer

Pharma Marketer Taps Agency to Handle $250 Million in Media Buying That Was Previously In-house

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Pharma giant Pfizer has consolidated under Carat all of its media buying for Wyeth DTC brands, industry executives say. The additional business was previously handled in-house by the Wyeth division and is estimated to be worth some $250 million in billings.

Agency executives could not be immediately reached for comment, and the marketer would not confirm or deny the move. In an e-mail, Ray Kerins, VP external affairs and worldwide communications at Pfizer, would say only: "Pfizer periodically reviews our agency partners to ensure we have proper support for our businesses."

The Aegis-owned shop was Pfizer's media-planning and -buying agency of record prior to $68 billion Wyeth merger last year, and the consolidation of media duties makes Pfizer one of Carat's biggest chunks of business -- all told, probably more than $1 billion in billings. The new work will be for certain respiratory, gastrointestinal and cardiovascular medicines.

Independent shop TargetCast, which handled planning for Wyeth's over-the-counter brands such as Advil, ChapStick and Dimetapp prior to the merger, will remain Pfizer's media-planning agency for consumer health-care brands.

Shake-ups
Pfizer has made several changes on the agency front in the past year. Last October, the pharma giant moved creative duties on its $120 million Viagra account to Dentsu-owned McGarryBowen from longtime agency partner Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann Erickson. That was the second large piece of business it took from the McCann family of companies and moved to McGarryBowen in a matter of months. Earlier in 2009 Pfizer also awarded McGarryBowen creative duties for its Chantix smoking cessation drug, which had previously been at McCann HumanCare.

Pfizer also tapped Omnicom Group's Rapp for Viagra's digital and CRM duties, which total nearly $20 million.

For Carat, the additional business comes on the heels of winning Beiersdorf's $100 million U.S. media planning and buying account.

Other than management reshuffles -- Martin Cass was named U.S. president of Carat, and Sarah Fay stepped down as CEO of North America for Aegis Media -- the agency was relatively silent for about a year after an unfortunate e-mail incident in which plans for a restructuring of its U.S. operations, including an undetermined number of layoffs, was sent to the entire agency.

But as of late it seems the company is active again, managing to bring in some new business.

Aside from Wyeth and Beiersdorf, Carat picked up North American communications-planning duties on P&G's Gillette male-grooming business in December. And it is defending its media assignments on Alberto-Culver and Radio Shack.

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