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(May 31, 2001) -- Ciba Vision, a division of Novartis AG, is consolidating its advertising account with Publicis Groupe's Publicis in Mid-America, Chicago, has learned.

The account was previously split between Publicis, which handled the Wesley Jesson business, and WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson, Atlanta, which handled Ciba Vision Corp. In October 2000 Ciba Vision acquired Wesley Jesson, best known for its colored contact lenses, as a way to boost market share.

Following the merger, Publicis launched an agressive but quiet attack to retain the account, said an executive close to the company, who added that Ciba informed JWT of the consolidation earlier today.

While the total spending could not be learned, Ciba Vision spent $20 million in measured media in 2000, while Wesley Jesson spent just under $8 million, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR.

Publicis executives declined to comment, and executives at JWT and Ciba Vision could not be reached. -- Kate MacArthur

Copyright May 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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