Novartis looks to shift global agency rosters

Novartis, the pharmaceuticals to foods giant, is considering an

overhaul of its global creative and PR agency roster. The company, whose

brands include Ovaltine and Nico-tinell, plans to bring agencies in line

with its strategy of creating strong global brands.

Head of global marketing and sales Andrew Kay said the company was

"moving to look at agencies that can service our brands more


"We're learning to work with a smaller number of agencies that have

global reach," he added.

Novartis uses creative agencies on a country-by- country basis. In the

UK its creative roster includes Euro RSCG Life, Grey Worldwide, Rainey

Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R, and Lowe Lintas & Partners. Its UK consumer

healthcare budget is £6.7m.

Kay confirmed that there would be "a number of pitches". He denied this

would amount to a roster consolidation.

The firm is however consolidating its global media firms, which are run

from the US. The pitch pits the CIA network, which holds the UK media

account, against MindShare and Initiative Media. Kay said media was

likely to continue to be run on a country-by-country basis, with the

winning agency taking the lead globally.

The agency pitches come as Novartis looks to bring consistency to its

brands worldwide. Its strategy is to shed the market-by-market approach

typical of pharmaceuticals firms and move toward the international

approach that is usually favoured by FMCG marketers.

"We drew our lessons from outside the industry," said Kay. "We looked at

consumer firms like Coca-Cola, Nike and Dell and focused and aligned our

internal resources behind developing and marketing global brands."

Under Kay, who joined Novartis from Zeneca Pharmaceuticals in the UK in

April 1999, the firm has established a global marketing team based in

Basle, Switzerland, which liaises with national marketing teams.

The company last week appointed former Boots skincare marketer Nick

Evans to head its UK marketing operations (Marketing, September 13). The

post was previously split between marketing directors for

over-the-counter products and for health and functional foods.

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