Pfizer Launches Review of $700 Million Media Business

No. 5 Advertiser One of Carat's Biggest Clients

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NEW YORK ( -- For the first time in over 10 years, Pfizer is starting a review of its $700 million media business, currently handled by Aegis' Carat, according to people familiar with the situation. In March the pharma giant consolidated all media buying for its Wyeth DTC brands under Carat.

Carat, which won the Red Bull U.S. media account last week, could not be reached for comment, and Pfizer did not return calls before press time.

New York-based Joanne Davis Consulting will be handling the review. People familiar with the situation said the portion of the business currently run by independent shop TargetCast, which includes media planning for Pfizer's consumer health-care brands, will not be part of the review.

Pfizer ranks No. 5 on Ad Age's 100 Leading National Advertisers report, with more than $2.1 billion in U.S. ad spending.

The Aegis-owned shop was Pfizer's media-planning and -buying agency of record prior to the $68 billion Wyeth merger last year, and the consolidation of media duties makes Pfizer one of Carat's biggest chunks of business -- all told, probably more than $1 billion in billings.

This is the second massive media review in the pharma sector in as many weeks. Last week Ad Age reported that drug giant GlaxoSmithKline is prepping a review of U.S. media duties on its massive $1.4 billion account.

Pfizer last week shifted creative duties for its Advil brand's $80 million advertising account to Dentsu-owned McGarryBowen.

Pfizer has made several changes on the agency front in the past year. Last October, it moved creative duties on its $120 million Viagra account to McGarryBowen from longtime agency partner Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann Erickson. That was the second large piece of business it took from the McCann family of companies and moved to McGarryBowen in a matter of months. Earlier in 2009 Pfizer also awarded McGarryBowen creative duties for its Chantix smoking-cessation drug, which had previously been at McCann HumanCare. And Omnicom Group's Tribal DDB was named digital agency for Advil in March. Pfizer also tapped Omnicom's Rapp in October 2009 for Viagra's digital and CRM duties, which total nearly $20 million.

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