Surprise Victor Emerges From Final Field of Five Competitors

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NEW YORK ( -- In a surprise move, Novartis has chosen New York-based Bravo Group as its first Hispanic agency of record after a final pitch involving
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at least five agencies, according to executives familiar with the review.

Novartis' entry is significant for the Hispanic market, where pharmaceutical marketers are the only major product category to devote less than 1% of ad budgets.

Not known to be pitching
A Novartis executive said he could not confirm the appointment. Bravo was not even known to be in the review, which was believed to have been narrowed down to four other agencies, who got calls after the final pitch in late May saying they had not won the business.

Although a dark horse in the review, Bravo is fully-owned by WPP Group, whose CommonHealth Group, an umbrella name for a collection of health-care agencies, works on Novartis' ad business.

Also pitching were Publicis Groupe's Conill; two independent Hispanic shops, the Vidal Partnership and GlobalWork's HispanicWorks division; and Interpublic Group of Cos.'-backed GlobalHue. Interpublic agencies, especially Deutsch, have a lot of Novartis business.

Drug chains
Drug chains, and retailers in general, have been faster to reach out to the Hispanic market than the major pharmaceutical companies. In a separate move, the pharmacy chain CVS has hired Hill, Holliday Hispanic as its first Hispanic agency. Interpublic-owned Hill Holliday is CVS' general market agency of record. The Hispanic agency's assignment is for consulting services related to Hispanic marketing and communications as the chain prepares to move into more states, including Florida and Texas, with a heavy Hispanic population.



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