Seeing potential across the pond, IPG adds UK agency to Integrated

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Brand(x), a UK brand consultancy and advertising/PR agency, will be run by Integrated Communications Corp. (ICC), following the recent purchase of the agency by Interpublic Group.

The formerly independent agency, whose clients include AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi-Aventis, will form the center of Integrated's European presence. That includes three-year-old ICC Europe, as well as Lowe Healthcare's European promotional agency, Lowe Azure, and European medical communications agency, Lowe Fusion. All are based in England and will move to Brand(x) offices in the Chiswick section of London. ICC's US headquarters are in New Jersey.

Terms of the October deal were not disclosed.

“More and more clients are looking for agencies with global capabilities—the ability to get the insights from Europe, and even beyond, and use them to drive your strategy...and also execute locally,” said Steve Viviano, who was recently promoted to the new position of CEO of the ICC companies.

Viviano said Brand(x) will help his agency begin strengthening its presence in Europe, where DTC promotion is not allowed.
This is the second major restructuring this year for the agency. In May IPG assigned New York consumer shop Alchemy to operate under Integrated. The holding company did not return a call seeking comment on its latest healthcare agency purchase.

If the Alchemy move was in recognition of ICC's previous five years of growth, the Brand(x) buy was a further show of faith during a turbulent period for the drug industry.

Novartis, one of ICC's biggest clients, is having a disappointing year on a number of fronts. It was forced to pull irritable bowel drug Zelnorm from the market over the summer due to safety concerns. Meanwhile, two other ICC accounts, Novartis' Lotrel and Famvir, were exposed to generic competition. This month the Swiss firm announced a plan to lay off some 1,200 marketing and sales employees.

“The net effect to us is…they pull back on advertising,” Viviano said.

Since that bad news, ICC added four accounts, including the first win from a group pitch that included Alchemy and ICC's other US shop, Trio Communications. ICC companies will do the US professional, consumer and medical education work for Abaxis Pharmaceuticals' Naropin, a long-acting anesthesia.

PriCara awarded professional AOR status to ICC for chronic pain drug Ultram ER, for which ICC was already doing med ed. The business had been handled by KPR.

Those wins followed one from GlaxoSmithKline, for its global consumer smoking cessation franchise (Commit lozenge and NicoDerm CQ patch), and one from Valiant Pharmaceuticals, for its hepatitis C drug Infergen. ICC will do professional promotion on both brands.

Before the recent GSK win, ICC had only one account from the Anglo drugmaker, ED treatment Levitra, which came over from WPP in an IPG consolidation. GSK happens to be one of Brand(x)'s largest accounts, presenting an opportunity to collaborate.

“Now that the company is based in Parsippany (NJ) and London, it's going to be an interesting opportunity for us to pursue expert promotion on both sides of the pond,” Viviano told MM&M.

And, with more offices from which to grow business, Viviano said he expects the acquisition to drive organic growth.

ICC itself is undergoing a re-branding, to be accompanied by a remodeling of its offices over the upcoming winter break. And Viviano said he will announce a new general manager for ICC in the next business quarter.

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