Media All-Star: Jan Weinstein

Carat USA svp, group director, successfully defended billion-dollar Pfizer business

The remedy for managing a billion-dollar advertising account in a highly regulated industry seems to be Jan Weinstein. As Carat’s svp and group director for Pfizer, Weinstein is the custodian of the nation’s sixth largest advertiser, a $1.3 billion business covering marketing for 43 brands. She heads Carat’s largest client team of more than 70 people, who work with another 30 inside the media shop.

While the scope of her job calls for a strong business leader who is organized, extroverted, and energetic, what separates Weinstein from other competent agency execs is her willingness to try something new for Pfizer, a very real challenge in a category where the government dictates a lot of what pharmaceutical companies can do or say in their marketing, and where the product requires a doctor’s prescription. “I tell my team, ‘Know the rules, but don’t let it constrain your thinking. There are ways to impact consumers within the regulations,’” says Weinstein.

Weinstein this year has grown her client’s presence in digital and social media in a category that traditionally relies heavily on television and print. “Getting into new media was challenging, but not impossible. While we work within a box, we have to find ways to be effective,” Weinstein says. One example is Pfizer’s partnership with 60 Minutes, which folded in a sponsorship of the CBS magazine show’s online counterpart, 60 Minutes Overtime. The site features social networking tools allowing visitors to share content, and Pfizer’s ads for Lipitor, Viagra, and Lyrica go along for the ride. “It put Pfizer in a social networking environment without having its own pages,” Weinstein explains.

“It was a simple idea made better by uniting the elements from design to execution across all media,” says Risa Wexler, Pfizer’s senior director of media. “The way we work together is good for the business, not for the appearance of ticking all boxes in the name of integration.”

Pfizer is more than just an account to Weinstein. “I believe it’s good for people to invest in their own health care, and advertising makes for a fundamentally healthier population,” Weinstein says. When Carat stood to lose its largest client during last year’s review, Weinstein led the review while coping with losing her father to cancer. “She was personally one of the reasons we retained the business,” says Steven Feuling, Carat’s chief client officer. “She is the kind of person you want on your business.” 

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