Sanofi-Aventis Puts Global Marketing Account Up for Grabs

Pharmaceutical Giant's Business Handled Mainly by Publicis Groupe

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NEW YORK ( -- Sanofi-Aventis, maker of sleep aid Ambien and insulin drug Lantus, has invited holding companies to pitch its multimillion-dollar global marketing account, much of which is handled by French ad conglomerate Publicis Groupe, according to executives familiar with the matter.

In the U.S. alone, the Paris-based pharma giant spent $247 million marketing its drug brands in 2007 and $158 million between January and September 2008, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

Sanofi-Aventis got the review process under way this week with meetings in New York and Paris. It will wrap up the first stage of the review with meetings in Shanghai next week, executives said.

Range of duties
According to one executive close to the pitch, a range of duties are up for grabs, including creative, media and public relations. Sanofi-Aventis is one of Publicis Groupe's biggest clients, with a number of its agencies -- including Publicis Worldwide, ZenithOptimedia and Saatchi & Saatchi Healthcare -- doing work for the marketer, which had global sales of $37 billion in 2007.

Sanofi's other key products include anti-clotting Plavix and colorectal-cancer drug Eloxatin. In 2008 it spent more than $100 million on domestic marketing of Ambien alone, according to TNS.

Executives at the holding companies either couldn't be reached or declined to comment. The marketer did not return calls by press time.

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