As one of the largest marketers in the world, pharma giant Pfizer has long worked with an array of marketing partners, but that list will be drastically cut over the course of the next 18 months. After a review process that Ad Age first reported in April, the company has decided to consolidate creative advertising duties globally with a trio of holding companies: WPP, Omnicom Group and Publicis Groupe .
"As a result of our periodic assessment of our agency partners, we have decided to consolidate our brand marketing into fewer holding companies," a spokeswoman said.
She declined to comment further but acknowledged the move is global and that the consolidation will spark a wave of shifts on various assignments that will take some time. The shifts are likely not to be complete until end of 2013 or beginning of 2014.
It's a big undertaking on Pfizer's part. According to Ad Age 's DataCenter , Pfizer is the 11th largest marketer in the country by ad spend. Its U.S. budget alone is a whopping $2.07 billion.
The review process -- which was done partly in an effort to increase efficiency and reduce expenses across the company -- included a number of holding company partners and key agencies.
The three firms that emerged with the business also happen to be the three biggest holding companies in the world by revenue. Several companies will be impacted by the drugmaker's moves, including Havas' Euro Life, Dentsu's McGarryBowen, Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann Humancare, as well as various independents.
Media, which is handled by Aegis' Carat, is not a part of the review, and neither are the company's animal health or nutrition businesses.
According to people close to the situation, in addition to the marketing department, Pfizer's procurement department was involved in the pitch. Those people said that during the course of the review, one component used was an online auction or an "e-auction" process.
As Ad Age has reported, such processes are increasingly cropping up in the marketing-services space, as procurement continues to take a more active role in agency pitches and assignments.