Grey Wins Pfizer’s Nexium as Pharma Giant Consolidates Its U.S. Agency Roster

Leo Burnett had the account since 2013

Pfizer, the world's second largest pharmaceutical company by sales, has picked Grey as lead creative agency on its antacid brand Nexium in the U.S. after a review.

The business had been with Leo Burnett, which won a global remit in a 2013 review. At the time, the Publicis shop's Chicago, Paris, Berlin and London offices joined forces to beat out an Omnicom team led by TBWA\Chiat\Day New York. Leo Burnett Chicago handled the U.S. portion of the account but will not continue to do so moving forward.

Representatives for both Grey and Leo Burnett deferred to the client on the news, and a Pfizer rep wrote, "We can't comment on rumor or speculation."

Multiple sources with direct knowledge of the matter, however, confirmed that the review did occur with Grey emerging as the winner. The WPP shop has been a member of Pfizer's agency roster for some time and currently works on multiple brands including Robitussin, Emergen-C, Advil and ThermaCare after winning the latter two assignments back from Dentsu's mcgarrybowen in a 2013 review.

In 2012, Pfizer announced plans to consolidate its global advertising accounts with the three largest holding companies. Earlier this year, the company scrapped a planned $160 billion merger with rival Allergan, which also makes Botox.

Pfizer continues to work with all three of the industry's top holding companies on various global accounts, but the Nexium move hints that the conglomerate still seeks to cut its overall marketing expenses. At least one trade publication also reported earlier this year that Pfizer had launched a global creative review for the Viagra brand, which is handled by BBDO in the U.S. But the client declined to confirm the news and has not yet named a new agency partner on that brand.

Pfizer spent $66 million on paid media promoting the Nexium brand in the United States in 2015, according to Kantar Media. The total for the first half of this year was just under $28 million.