Bayer Consolidates Global Creative for Merck Brands with BBDO, JWT

BBDO Gains Biggest Spenders -- Claritin and Dr. Scholls -- But Gives Up Phillips

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Bayer has consolidated global creative assignments for brands involved in its October acquisition of Merck's consumer healthcare business with Omnicom's BBDO and WPP's JWT. It has also moved the Phillips brand to JWT, the company confirmed.

BBDO picked up the biggest-spending brands including Claritin, Afrin and Dr. Scholls in the Americas. The three brands had a combined $164 million in U.S. media support last year and $135 million through the first nine months of this year according to Kantar Media. The assignments are global, except for Dr. Scholls, which only covers the Americas, because the brand is marketed elsewhere by RB.

JWT picked up the Coppertone and Miralax brands formerly owned by Merck along with the Phillips brand. Phillips was already was with Bayer, but formerly handled by BBDO as Bayer consolidated accounts along category lines. Combined, the brands picked up by JWT spent $50 million in measured media in 2013 and another $50 million through the first nine months of 2014, according to Kantar. Phillips was the biggest spender of the group, with $26 million in measured media outlays last year and $20 million so far this year.

Havas Worldwide handled most of the brands under Merck, including Claritin, Coppertone and Dr. Scholls. Publicis Kaplan Thaler handled Miralax. Spokespeople for Publicis couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

A Havas spokeswoman said in an e-mail statement: "We are incredibly proud to have been a valued creative and strategic partner of these brands for more than 30 years."

She noted that Havas helped Claritin become a top allergy brand. "For Dr. Scholls, we launched the most successful campaign with Gellin', which doubled the business and ran for eight years, becoming part of the vernacular," she said. "We have had the Coppertone business for over 25 years and secured its market leadership despite numerous competitive launches. We helped make Afrin the No.1 nasal decongestant in North America.

"Having played such a large part in developing these brands, naturally we are disappointed that we will not be working on them going forward. We wish Bayer and their roster agencies all the luck in the future."

BBDO referred calls for comment to Bayer. JWT couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Bayer already had shifted media from Interpublic's Initiative to WPP's Mediacom in October, shortly after completing its $14.2 billion acquisition of the Merck brands.

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