Publicis Groupe's Starcom and Epsilon have retained Novartis' global media account following a seventh-month review that included agencies from WPP, Omnicom and Havas, according to a person close to the matter.
That person said WPP was the finalist in the pitch against Starcom and Epsilon. WPP and Havas did not immediately respond to requests for comment while an Omnicom Media spokesperson declined comment.
Starcom and Epsilon will form a bespoke unit, called NovartisOne2, to service the assignment, which spans media planning and buying, and data and analytics, across 60 global markets. It takes effect Jan. 1, 2020.
Starcom first won the Swiss pharmaceutical company's media account in 2011, taking lead responsibilities from WPP's MEC (now part of Wavemaker, the group formed through the merger of MEC and Maxus).
"Rooted in a data-led, digital-first approach, NovartisOne unites Starcom and Epsilon to deliver capability that is agile, collaborative and relentlessly focused [on] driving business outcomes, along with delivering personalized experiences at scale for Novartis’ complex and evolving consumers," John Sheehy, global brand president of Starcom Worldwide, said in a statement.
The win follows Publicis closing on its $4.4 billion acquisition of data-marketing behemoth Epsilon in July. The holding company then began rolling out Epsilon to its clients, initially in the U.S. It is unclear exactly what role Epsilon played in winning the Novartis account; a Starcom spokesperson declined to go into details.
According to Ad Age's DataCenter, Novartis is among the 100 largest national advertisers; the company spent $498 million in the U.S. on total media in 2018.