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Pfizer Launches Holding-Company Review in Bid to Trim Costs

Pharma Giant's Procurement Department Working With Marketing to Determine Outcome of Review

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Pfizer has circulated a request-for-information document to holding-company partners and key agencies as it begins a review process aimed at helping to reduce expenses across the company.

The process affects a number of agency companies, since the drugmaker has its massive account spread over a range of shops. Those include: Omnicom Group's Rapp, Publicis Groupe 's Kaplan Thaler Group, Dentsu's McGarryBowen, WPP's Grey , and Havas' Euro Life.

Responses are due back from shops later this month, but beyond that no firm timeline is established for the conclusion of the pitch. 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.

A Pfizer spokeswoman would say only: "Pfizer conducts periodic assessments of its agency partners to ensure we have a best-in-class approach to the marketing efforts that support our business goals and objectives."

Pfizer has been regularly conducting agency reviews and has devoted a lot of time to rejiggering its ad-agency partners, especially for a big marketer. During 2009 and 2010, it made a wave of changes that resulted in Omnicom Group's catching more work, as well as McGarryBowen winning various accounts from Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann.

But according to people close to the situation, this review is part of a broader initiative to slash Pfizer's expenses this year. A team of professionals, including from the procurement department, will weigh in on the results of the process.

According to Ad Age 's DataCenter , Pfizer's ad spending in the U.S. alone is $2.12 billion.

This review fits into a larger trend of marketers' calling on agencies to share the burden of finding cost efficiencies. As Ad Age reported, a new ANA survey found that more marketers are under pressure to tightly manage their controllable spending. Last year 77% of respondents said they had been asked to control spending; that number jumped to 84% this year.

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