Bates stands to expand OTC duties with Pfizer

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The Pfizer/Warner-Lambert Co. merger may not be all bad news after all for Bates USA, New York.

Bates has had to watch one prized account -- cholesterol drug Lipitor -- go into review, and some $200 million in planning duties go up for grabs. But the longtime Warner-Lambert shop now appears poised to retain more than $150 million in creative duties -- and maybe even add some billings.


Bates is expected to hold onto a slew of consumer products, including Benadryl, Dentyne, Neosporin, Quanterra and Sudafed. And it will add responsibility for other over-the-counter accounts, said a person close to the situation.

A Bates spokesman declined to comment. Officials at the merged marketer, now called Pfizer, didn't return phone calls at deadline.Bates has close ties to executives at the unit, including Morgan Morton, president of the division, who last week announced he would retire Nov. 1; Maurice Renshaw, exec VP of Warner-Lambert Consumer Group and president, Consumer Healthcare Division; and Alex Bachmann, exec VP at Warner-Lambert Consumer Group and president of the Adams Division.


"It would not be a surprise to me at all to see [Bates] get a host of creative assignments," said one executive close to the situation. That would be welcome news for Bates, which has had Warner-Lambert as a client since 1950 but seemed to be in danger of losing all ties to the company in the wake of the merger.

Bates was notified it would lose $200 million in planning duties after the new Pfizer launched a review to consolidate its $738 million media account. Then Pfizer launched a review for the $55 million Lipitor account. Other direct-to-consumer drug work for Loestrin and FemHRT, both former Warner-Lambert products, is also out the door.

Even though Bates won't handle DTC accounts for the new Pfizer, it will still be a player in that growing field. The agency handles TAP Pharmaceuticals' Prevacid and recently won Altace, co-marketed by American Home Products Corp. and King Pharmaceuticals.

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