Cobb leaves Pace

Mary Cobb, longtime CEO and president of the agency Pace, has left and is exploring other opportunities. She was with Pace for 16 years, running the agency since January 2000 and growing it every year. Prior to that, she was with Ferguson before it joined CommonHealth to become that network’s flagship agency. Sal Perreca, chairman of IPG’s Lowe Healthcare network, has been named acting CEO and president. Cobb’s departure appeared to have been a result of a decision by the network. “We came to an agreement, and it was time for me to leave,” Cobb told MM&M. “Right now I’m exploring different avenues, and consulting opportunities have presented themselves.” Pace is set to lose a fairly high-profile, eight-year-old account later this year--Pfizer’s US and worldwide Xalatan business. Global sales for Xalatan, a glaucoma drug, rose 6% to $1.45 billion last year. The agency recently pitched and won Bayer’s oncology franchise, which includes kidney cancer drug Nexavar. Co-marketed with Onyx, Nexavar had $165 million in global revenue in 2006, its first full year on the market. Pace also handles emergency contraceptive Plan B, which made an OTC switch last year under a restricted access program. Pace does the consumer and professional creative for the brand, as well as for other women’s health products from Duramed--the proprietary unit of Barr Labs--including the contraceptive Seasonale and its follow-on Seasonique. Producing both physician and DTC ads is somewhat unique for an agency. Although another Lowe shop, professional agency Integrated Communications, is expected to announce today that Alchemy, a consumer agency it had partnered with on several brands, will now be under its direct purview. Cobb said she is carefully weighing her next move, which could involve joining a start-up agency or a move to the client side. “[This is] really the first time in many, many years to kind of sit back and look at what the opportunities are...I’m trying to take that opportunity.”