Deutsch, Pfizer Call It Quits

NEW YORK Interpublic Group’s Deutsch and Pfizer are splitting because they cannot come to terms on a new contract, said Val DiFebo, managing partner and director of client services.

“It really came down to contractual terms that really are inconsistent with the way we do business,” said DiFebo, adding, “This was just something we couldn’t work out.”

It is unclear what will happen with the brands that Deutsch handles: allergy medication Zyrtec, anti-depressant Zoloft and Bextra, an anti-inflammatory drug for arthritis patients. The New York shop had worked for the pharmaceutical giant since 1999.

DiFebo did not elaborate on the terms Deutsch could not accept but indicated that there were numerous differences. Sources said Pfizer wanted information about the agency’s profit margins and even the salaries of employees working on Pfizer business.

A client representative denied that the company had asked for salary or profit margin information. “We have mutually agreed to terminate the relationship,” the rep said, adding, “But we never asked about salaries” and profit margins.

No layoffs will result from the business leaving, and the agency is still hiring new staffers, DiFebo said.

The divorce comes after a year of fee negotiations between Pfizer and all its roster shops, which also include Merkley Newman Harty & Partners, J. Walter Thompson and Bates. An outside consultant has actively participated in the negotiations, which also involved Pfizer purchasing executives, said sources.