Novartis Consolidates $600 Million Global Media Account With Publicis Groupe

GroupM, Omnicom and Havas also participated in the review

Novartis CEO Vas Narasimham said the company had 'an exceptional first half.' Novartis

Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis concluded an extensive review by selecting Publicis Groupe as its global media buying and planning, data and analytics partner.

Starcom and Epsilon, which Publicis Groupe acquired earlier this year for more than $4 billion, will lead the account with the creation of a bespoke solution called NovartisONE2, combining media and data talent and resources.

“Just as Novartis seeks to reimagine medicine, we too seek to reimagine and transform how we deliver data-driven marketing strategies for our clients,” Starcom global brand president John Sheehy wrote in a statement. “Rooted in a data-led, digital-first approach, NovartisONE2 unites Starcom and Epsilon to deliver capability that is agile, collaborative and relentlessly focused driving business outcomes, along with delivering personalized experiences at scale for Novartis’ complex and evolving consumers.”

Starcom was incumbent on the account along with WPP, which handled a smaller portion of the account via  healthcare marketing arm CMI/Compas, sources with knowledge of the account said. The review also included Omnicom and Havas. According to a source with knowledge of the review, the final stage of the process pitted the two incumbents against each other.

Omnicom declined to comment. Spokespeople for WPP and Havas did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Novartis, which makes such drugs as Ritalin and Tegretol, spent around $600 million globally on measured marketing, according to global data company COMvergence. In its recent second-quarter earnings report, CEO Vas Narasimham said the company had “an exceptional first half.”

Publics Groupe CEO Arthur Sadoun shared the news in an internal memo today, thanking Starcom for leading the pitch while also citing its healthcare marketing and media capabilities and highlighting the role Epsilon played in the review.

“Our ability to consolidate the entire business, expand our scope, and prove to an existing client that after many years we are still the right partner in their transformation is the clear demonstration of our ability to build strong long term relationships, while perpetually improving our product and our offer,” Sadoun wrote.

He noted that this was Publicis Groupe’s first joint pitch with Epsilon, which arrived in the middle of the pitch process following the acquisition.

“They made a real difference by bringing incomparable data and tech expertise, to deliver personalization at scale,” his memo read.

“We are of course going through very challenging times and we still have a lot of work to do to come back to strong organic growth. But this kind of major victory is another demonstration that we have the winning model connecting data, creativity and technology, through the Power of One,” Sadoun added, while also stressing that the summer was proving a productive one for the holding company.

The news follows Starcom being selected to handle all TV media buying and planning for Vistaprint, an online provider of marketing products and services for small businesses, at the beginning of the month. It also follows pharmaceutical company Allergan sending its U.S. media account to GroupM’s Mindshare after initially selecting Publics’ Spark Foundry. Today, CVS Health consolidated the majority of its media account with UM.

@ErikDOster Erik Oster is an agencies reporter for Adweek.