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Carat Keeps $1.2 Billion Pfizer Media After Review

Longtime Relationship Unaffected by Pharma Company's Consolidation Deal

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Pfizer is keeping its estimated $1.2 billion media planning and buying business at Aegis' Carat after a review that launched in September. The move comes after the pharma company earlier this year consolidated all media buying for its Wyeth DTC brands under Carat.

The agency referred calls for comment to Pfizer, which said it: "is pleased to continue its nearly 11-year relationship with Carat as its agency of record for direct-to-consumer media planning and buying for the pharmaceutical business across all communications channels, and for TV and print buying for the over-the-counter consumer health-care business in the U.S."

New York-based Joanne Davis Consulting managed the pitch process. A portion of the business currently run by independent shop TargetCast -- which includes media planning for Pfizer's consumer health-care brands -- was not part of the review, according to people familiar with the situation.

Incumbents rarely manage to hang on to an account at the end of a major review process. However, the Carat/Pfizer relationship is a strong one that's been in place since well before the $68 billion Pfizer and Wyeth merger last year. The consolidation of media duties back in March made Pfizer one of Carat's biggest clients, amounting, all told, probably more than $1 billion in billings.

Carat has brought in close to $1 billion in new business in 2010. The shop grabbed Red Bull's $54 million U.S. media planning and buying assignment in September and it picked up Diageo's $130 million U.S. media account and the U.S. assignment for Relativity Media, producer of movies "The Social Network" and "Catfish," the following month. The shop also picked up the $100 million Beiresdorf planning and buying account and the $85 million Smucker's account earlier this year.

For Pfizer, 2010 resembled a game of musical chairs. It shifted creative duties for its Advil brand's $80 million ad account to Dentsu-owned McGarryBowen in September. Last October, it moved creative duties on its $120 million Viagra account to 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. And Omnicom Group's Tribal DDB was named digital agency for Advil, while Omnicom's Rapp was tapped for Viagra's digital and CRM duties, which total nearly $20 million.

Pfizer ranks No. 5 on Ad Age's 100 Leading National Advertisers report, with more than $2.1 billion in total U.S. ad spending. This is the second major pharma media review that has wrapped up in as many days; yesterday GlaxoSmithKline awarded its $1.4 billion U.S. media account to Omnicom Group's PHD.

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