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Hill, Holliday Adds Diovan

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BOSTON Novartis has shifted creative chores on its Diovan hypertension drug to Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos from Deutsch without a review, sources said.

Both agencies are units of the Interpublic Group.

Novartis spent more than $350 million so far this year in measured media across all its brands, but has not advertised Diovan in several years, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. The drug ranks among the nation's leading hypertension medications with nearly $1.1 billion in overall sales.

Sources said Diovan ad spending could top $75 million in 2007, with work breaking early next year.

The Diovan business was estimated at $80 million in 2002 when Deutsch added the assignment.

Hill, Holliday here is tasked with crafting a consumer campaign for Diovan, with broadcast, print and interactive ads in the works, per sources.

Agency and client officials either could not be reached or declined comment.

This marks Hill, Holliday's second major score in recent weeks, following its selection to handle a branding assignment for longtime client AOL [Adweek Online, Sept. 20]. The agency's New York office added the $20 million Smith Barney account this spring.

Hill, Holliday had not previously worked with East Hanover, N.J.-based Novartis, but has a broad healthcare background that includes working for the Cleveland Clinic, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, the HIP of New York HMO and pharmacy chain CVS. (Agency chairman Jack Connors, who is soon to retire, also chairs Partners Healthcare, which is on Hill, Holliday's roster.)

Novartis will confirm Hill, Holliday's selection later this week, sources said.