Pfizer Kicks Off Megamedia Review


Achenbaum to Conduct Review of $700 Mil.-Plus Account
LOS ANGELES–Pfizer Inc. has embarked on a consolidation of its media business, launching a re-view for what will be at least a $700 million-plus account, sources said. The review follows the approval this past June of Pfizer’s $90-billion merger with Warner-Lambert, and is being led by New York-based consultant Alvin Achenbaum, according to sources.
The much-anticipated move by what is now the world’s largest drug marketer continues a remarkable run of media-only planning and buying consolidation in the U.S. Among the ad categories fueling the blaze are the nation’s largest–automotive and packaged goods–as well as one of the most explosive –pharmaceuticals, now a $2 billion advertising category.
Since May 1999, General Motors, May Co., Kraft Foods, GlaxoSmith-Kline, Levi’s, Unilever, Conagra, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter and Pfizer, among others, have or are in the process of consolidating planning and or buying. Those advertisers alone total about $5.5 billion in billings.
Pfizer consolidated its $200 million media billings at Carat North America, in December 1998. That review was also conducted by Achenbaum, chairman of New York-based consulting firm Achenbaum Bogda Associates. Warner-Lambert’s media is handled by MindShare U.S.A. The drug maker’s other shops include The Media Edge, which handles the arthritis drug Celebrex marketed jointly by Pfizer and Searle, a division of Monsanto, and Bates Worldwide, which handles media planning for several Warner-Lambert brands.
Combined, Pfizer and Warner-Lambert spent more than $730 million in 1999, per Competitive Media Reporting, but that figure is likely to increase as the direct-to-consumer category continues to sizzle.
The winner in the consolidation will inherit a prize that includes some of the most successful drug brands in the world. Pfizer, founded by immigrant cousins more than 150 years ago, is now a thoroughly modern marketer with several major brands, including what has become a veritable medicinal icon: Viagra. The renamed Warner-Lambert Consumer Group includes on its marketing shelf 13 over-the-counter brands ranked number one in their categories in the U.S., including Listerine, Benadryl, Neosporin, Sudafed, Visine, Desitin and Ben-Gay.
In the second quarter of 2000, Pfizer reported profit from operations rose 21 percent from the same period in 1999, to just over $1.4 billion.