Publicis Wins Ciba Consolidation

Steve Colton joined Novartis AG’s Ciba Vision four months ago as vice president of marketing, and one of his first moves was to consolidate the contact-lens company’s ad account at a single agency.

Following an informal review between its roster shops, Publicis in Mid America, Chicago, was awarded the com pany’s combined $20 million North America consumer account.

The win includes media duties, which will be handled by Publicis’ Optimedia International.

Publicis is the lead agency for Ciba unit Wesley Jessen VisionCare, a specialty colored-contact-lens maker. The agency won the $8 million account in 2000. Ciba’s previous ad and media accounts were at J. Walter Thompson and Mindshare, both in Atlanta.

“I found Publicis’ cosmetic experience very attractive to our consumer branding position,” Colton said.

The move comes as a relief to Publicis, which has been uncertain about its role with Ciba, which purchased Wesley Jessen around the time the agency won the account.

“We were at the contract-signing stage and didn’t know if we would even keep the business,” said agency chairman and CEO Barry Krause.

Colton said the print campaign for Wesley Jessen, tagged “Just for tonight,” was the type of “exciting” work Ciba was looking for.

One of Publicis’ first duties will be positioning new Ciba products that will be introduced later this year, pending FDA approval.

The move is not connected to Novartis’ $235 million media review. That is a separate pitch, in which Publicis’ media arm Optimedia is also a player, Krause said.