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Aflac Consolidates Advertising, Media With Publicis Groupe

After Long Relationships With Incumbents, It Completes Agency Overhaul

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Aflac has consolidated its advertising with Publicis Groupe, awarding its more than $70 million traditional and digital media-planning and -buying accounts, respectively, to MediaVest and Digitas, respectively, according to executives with knowledge of the review.

Digitas is handling all digital media, digital advertising and direct, while MediaVest will handle all traditional buying and planning duties. The shops beat out Havas' MPG.

As for the creative, that part of the business also remains with Publicis, but it's unclear whether Fallon, which was a finalist in the pitch, or another sibling, would be taking on creative duties, long handled by Kaplan Thaler Group, also part of the French ad holding company.

Fallon could not be immediately reached, and Arnold, the Havas-owned shop that was also a finalist for creative duties, declined to comment, as did the other agencies. The marketer did not return phone calls before press time.

Interpublic Group of Cos.' Fitzgerald & Co was the 20-year incumbent on the media account and did not take part in the pitch. MediaVest will have a lot to live up to, as Fitzgerald and the insurance marketer had a very long and productive relationship. Fitzgerald was responsible for a CNN takeover that launched Aflac's iconic duck. The agency's work on the account also won a Cannes Media Lions award in the best use of TV category.

It's been a tumultuous review, with agencies being asked to participate in the pitch, then being kicked out and invited back in. Like Fitzgerald, the creative incumbent, Kaplan Thaler Group -- the creators of the Aflac duck -- also declined to defend the business. The reviews were led by Select Resources International.

May has been an interesting Month for MediaVest, which saw Mars Inc. move the Wrigley media-buying duties to sibling Starcom earlier this month. That move came after Kraft, one of MediaVest's largest clients, consolidated media-buying duties on the $120 million portfolio of Cadbury brands at the agency as well as at a number of Publicis siblings, including Digitas.

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Rupal Parekh contributed to this report.

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