Bates shift: JWT health unit snags $300M of Pfizer biz

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Pharmaceutical company Pfizer last week shifted $300 million in business-and, as a result, 125 Bates Worldwide employees-to WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson, which created a dedicated healthcare unit, Health@ JWT.

The new business includes more than a dozen over-the-counter medications, including Benadryl, Neosporin, Sudafed, Visine, Desitin, Zantac and Rolaids. Those accounts, and the new employees, were formerly at Cordiant Communications Group's Bates Worldwide. WPP acquired Cordiant last month.

A spokesman for JWT said the agency will receive at least seven other brands from other Pfizer agencies, including the BenGay, Cortizone and Unisom accounts currently at Omnicom Group's Cline, Davis & Mann, New York.

The spokesman said $180 million of the business is to be handled at JWT's New York headquarters, and $120 million in global offices. He termed the shifts "strictly Pfizer's decision." Earlier this year, Pfizer had taken more than $100 million in accounts away from JWT.

Pfizer did not return a call but released a statement August 7 that said: "With the recent acquisition of Cordiant Communications by WPP Group, we are pleased that our Bates account, creative and research team will be joining our JWT team under the newly formed Health@JWT."

The unit will be headquartered in New York and will have offices in other locations of the JWT network. Health@JWT will be run by Howard Courtemanche, formerly the worldwide client director of Pfizer business at Bates. Mr. Courtemanche will work with Ellen Hyde, who currently handles Pfizer business at JWT. Mr. Courtemanche said the deal was finalized on August 1.

"We are integrating from both sides," he said. "From day one, we're going to have Bates people work on legacy JWT brands to build that cross culture."

In addition to his CEO title, Mr. Courtemanche will be the global business director for Pfizer's U.S. business. Ms. Hyde will be global business director for international. The two worked together several years ago at D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles. Bob Froelich, former creative director at Pfizer, will be the new executive creative director at Health@JWT.

back and forth

It is not known if Mark Morris, who was Bates' top account executive on Pfizer's OTC business, will move to JWT. Mr. Morris did not return a call and Mr. Courtemanche declined to comment.

In February, Pfizer took the $37 million Lubriderm skin care account away from JWT and gave it to Omnicom Group's BBDO. Last week, it dropped JWT from the $81 million Celebrex account. The anti-arthritis drug is currently in review, with Publicis Groupe's Kaplan Thaler Group and Havas' Arnold Worldwide, both New York, pitching the business.

Separately, Mr. Courtemanche said Health@JWT will get another piece of former Bates business, the diabetes franchise from Bristol-Myers Squibb. The products include Glucovance, Glucophage XR and Metaglip. The products total more than $21 million in ad spending, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

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