Prevacid, Tesco Hire Deutsch

LOS ANGELES Interpublic Group’s Deutsch has scored business on both coasts, winning Novartis’ Prevacid in its New York headquarters and adding an assignment from Tesco in its Marina del Rey, Calif., office.

Novartis late Friday hired Deutsch to handle its OTC advertising, a new assignment, per sources. One source said spending could be as high as $100 million, though the client spent less than $1 million in U.S. measured media last year, per Nielsen Monitor Plus. The client spent $65 million on ads for the brand as recently as 2005. Deutsch was selected following a review.

The drug treats heartburn and acid reflux disease. A Deutsch representative referred calls to the East Hanover, N.J., client, where execs were not immediately available for comment.

Separately, retail giant Tesco named Deutsch/LA to handle the U.S. introduction of the company’s Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market stores, which launch later this year, according to Mike Sheldon, Deutsch co-president. The domestic ad budget is undetermined. There was no review.

Last September, the U.K.-based company said it would expand into the United States, with plans to invest $500 million annually in new stores with hopes of breaking even within the first two years of operation.

The first stores in the U.S. will launch in cities such as Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas and Phoenix, said Simon Uwins, Fresh & Easy chief marketing officer.

Uwins said he has been in this country for two years, researching the market and studying ad agencies in preparation for the launch of domestic operations from El Segundo, Calif. The company maintains global headquarters in Hertfordshire, England.

“We have no global branding strategy that we plan to execute,” Uwins said. “We believe that retail should be local.” The strategy for each store is developed from the ground up and should reflect what people want in specific localities, he said.

Greg Sage, international corporate affairs manager at Tesco, said Fresh & Easy would introduce “a brand new format” based roughly on the Tesco Express neighborhood convenience stores in England, but declined to elaborate. He expects the stores to be roughly 15,000 square feet. “We develop local business tailored to local custom,” said Sage. “And we focus on building a local team.”

Tesco spends $80 million annually on ads in the U.K., and the account was at the center of controversy last year, shifting from IPG’s Lowe in London to The Red Brick Road, a startup launched by former Lowe global chairman Frank Lowe. Legal wrangling ensued between Frank Lowe and IPG, with the latter accusing the executive of trying to destabilize his former agency. The parties settled out of court in January.

Worldwide, Tesco has 2,800 stores and employs more than 370,000 people. In the U.K. alone, it runs 1,200 stores and employs over 250,000 people, making it the U.K.’s largest private-sector employer. It also operates in Asia and Eastern and Central European markets.