CVS Puts Creative Agency Business Into Review

CVS Held Its Last Review in 2010

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CVS Caremark is kicking off the year with a creative agency review, according to people familiar with the matter.

"CVS Caremark is a business with exciting challenges and opportunities ahead," said a CVS spokeswoman. "With the changing consumer and health-care landscape, we are evaluating advertising partners to encompass our entire suite of Enterprise and Retail needs."

Pile & Company is supporting the search and has reached out to agencies with offices on the East Coast.

Digital is part of the scope, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Woonsocket, R.I.-based drugstore giant last reviewed its creative-agency business in 2010, ultimately moving the account from Interpublic Group of Cos' Hill Holliday to Havas' Arnold. At the time, it also named WPP's Mindshare its media agency. Pile supported that review as well. Prior to that agency shakeup, the marketer hadn't held an ad-agency review for eight years. The review will not affect Mindshare's media account, according to people familiar with the matter.

Incumbent Arnold is defending the business, according to an executive familiar with the matter. The loss of CVS would add to a string of losses for Arnold, which lost its Volvo business this month and didn't continue as a finalist in the American Legacy Foundation's agency review. Arnold has been working with the anti-tobacco group on its Truth campaign for many years. Softening the blow were recent wins from Pur Water Filters and ADT.

Arnold declined to comment and referred calls to the client. CVS didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The company spent $402.6 million on total advertising in the U.S., including $119 million on measured media.

CVS Caremark, which encompasses three groups -- retail pharmacy, pharmacy services and corporate -- has one of the largest pharmacy chains in the country, touting 7,500 stores and about $120 billion in sales in 2012. The company this past November signed a deal to buy Coram LLC, a provider of infusion services (delivering medicine through a needle or catheter) and nutrition services, from Apria Healthcare Group for about $2.1 billion. Coram services customers primarily through at-home infusion and a national network of locations. CVS expected to complete the deal in first quarter 2014. CVS's retail pharmacy segment as of Dec. 31, 2012, operated 7,458 retail drugstores in 42 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, primarily under the CVS/pharmacy name.

This fall, CVS launched its MyWeekly custom deal service along with its "what's your deal" tagline and TV spots. Longtime CMO Rob Price talked to Ad Age about the initiative in October.

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