CVS Health Consolidates Majority of $159 Million US Media Account With UM

Digitas will handle paid search, but not Aetna

CVS Store signs
The chain acquired Aetna late last year.
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A spokesperson confirmed that pharmacy chain CVS Health has consolidated the majority of its U.S. media buying and planning responsibilities with IPG Mediabrands network UM.

The appointment concludes a review launched earlier this year as CVS Health completed its acquisition of Aetna last November.

UM will be responsible for media buying and planning for the primary CVS Health brand, excluding paid search, which will be handled by Digitas, as well as all media buying and planning for Aetna, including paid search. Aetna incumbent Neo@Ogilvy, which was folded into GroupM’s Mindshare back in 2017, also participated in the review, according to sources with knowledge of the matter.

“As we move forward as a unified company, we’ve made the decision to consolidate media buying under a single agency in order to both drive efficiencies and to best support enterprise-level initiatives. In March we began a review process in order to find the right partner that would understand the complexity of our business while bringing forward lasting innovation,” said CVS Health chief marketing officer Norman de Greve in a statement.

He continued, “While each agency that participated brought a unique level of expertise and experience, the decision was made to remain with the two CVS Health incumbents: UM will continue as our agency of record for all paid media except paid search, and Digitas will continue as our agency of record for holistic search (paid and organic).”

Spokespeople for UM and Digitas deferred to the client. A representative for Mindshare was not immediately available for comment.

CVS Health spent nearly $126 million and Aetna just over $33 million on measured marketing in the U.S. last year, according to Kantar Media. In the first quarter of this year, CVS Health spent a little under $31 million, down slightly from nearly $32 million over that same period last year.

Earlier this year, CVS Health joined the Big Tobacco Pledge, promising not to work with individual agencies who work with any tobacco companies. The pledge marked another move away from the tobacco industry after CVS Health stopped selling tobacco back in September 2014.

Second-quarter earnings, announced last week, beat expectations as CEO Larry Merlo credited the Aetna acquisition with assisting in his company’s plans to turn its locations into full-service “health hubs” and counter general declines in prescription drug revenue. Stock prices rose several points along with the news.

Patrick Coffee contributed reporting.