Merck Taps McCann to Handle Creative Duties for Several Brands

Move Is Part of Pharma Giant's Broad Reorganization of Agency Relationships

By Published on .

Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann Worldgroup, via its health-and-wellness practice HumanCare, has been awarded consumer creative duties for several Merck brands.

McCann HumanCare is now the lead agency for all of Merck's respiratory brands, including Nasonex, Singulair and Dulera. In a joint statement, the marketer and agency said McCann HumanCare will be responsible for all patient-consumer communications efforts, including DTC advertising, patient education, digital and CRM. There is no timetable for introducing new advertising for those brands. Nasonex was previously handled by Omnicom Group's BBDO, while Dulera was previously handled by Omnicom's DDB.

"Our responsibility for being lead agencies on these brands has effectively started this month," said Andrew Schirmer, exec VP-managing director of McCann HumanCare in New York. "We'll see when that actually takes effect in terms of what you'll see in the marketplace."

Media planning and buying for those brands is handled by Interpublic's DraftFCB, while B-to-B communications are handled by Area 23, a DraftFCB spinoff that is health-care-focused.

It's unclear how much Merck is spending on marketing its portfolio of respiratory brands. But according to Ad Age 's DataCenter, Merck is the 38th-largest national advertiser, spending $921.1 million in the U.S. Globally, it is estimated to devote more than $1 billion to advertising.

The win by McCann HumanCare gives umbrella company McCann Worldgroup a boost. Overseen by Nick Brien for the past two years, Worldgroup is the biggest driver of revenue for parent Interpublic, and McCann separated from a number of key creative accounts in the past year, including Applebee's, Lufthansa and some Nestle business. It is also defending its Avis account; a decision in that review is expected in the next couple of weeks.

The changes are part of a process that Merck began a year ago as it seeks to consolidate pharma franchise groups with different holding companies, rather than having one-off agencies for every brand and every target audience.

Earlier this year, Merck Consumer Care named Publicis a creative agency partner. It took on responsibility for Dr. Scholl's in Latin America, as well as for MiraLax and an upcoming product in the U.S. It also continues to work globally with Havas' EuroRSCG on Claritin and other brands, while Omnicom has seen a shift of its respiratory account. Omnicom's agencies will no longer work on Dulera and Nasonex; it has been awarded other business.

According to Sharon Callahan, who manages the Merck relationship at Omnicom, it "has been awarded all of Merck's business in the cardiovascular, oncology, contraception, fertility, immunology and bone-therapeutic categories, and DDB is the key consumer partner in each of these engagements."

Most Popular