Merck Loss Leads to Staffing Changes at Havas

By Patrick Coffee 

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Back in October of 2014, we noted that Bayer planned to make some changes in its agency lineup after acquiring rival Merck’s OTC pharmaceutical brands.

In a move resembling that made by so many other companies with new ownership/ marketing leaders, Bayer took the Merck business away from Havas, thereby ending a “30+ year relationship” between agency and client.


At the time, an internal memo predicted that the business would “end March 31, 2015 or soon thereafter,” and that prediction was accurate: last week Havas had to lay off more than a dozen employees as a direct result of the loss.

A spokesperson tells us that the changes, which affected slightly less than three percent of total staff, primarily applied to the New York team working on the Merck business. The total number of employees dismissed was approximately 15, and most were, according to the source, “junior and mid-level” staffers on the account. At the moment, we have no information regarding specific names.

Two months after telling Havas that it would be moving on, the client confirmed that it would consolidate its work with the two agencies that had been running the Bayer accounts before the merger: JWT and BBDO.

Expect new work from both soon.