Pfizer is the biggest drugs company in the world, even more so following its $68bn mega-merger with Wyeth last year, and the fifth-largest US advertiser.
So when it decided to review its $1.3bn media account there must have been a cold wind blowing through media agency Carat and its publicly-quoted owner Aegis.
The move comes shortly after rival drug company GSK announced it was reviewing its even bigger $1.4bn media account at Mediacom (GSK sets more store by consumer brands whereas a quarter of Pfizer’s sales come from cholestorol-lowering potion Lipitor).
The Pfizer review is being carried out by Joanne Davis Consulting, the client/agency matchmaker formed by Joanne Davis in 2000 after a career involving stints at Bozell Worldwide and the fabled Wells Rich Greene and a spell as head of advertising for the US Department of Defense.
Money probably lies at the root of it all as the enlarged Pfizer wrestles with the $20bn or so it borrowed to buy Wyeth and the prospect of losing its Lipitor patent next year.
This will be followed by a stampede of generic lookalikes which will be welcomed with open arms by medics and governments, like the US now as Barack Obama’s healthcare reforms limp onto the statute book.
So Carat and its competitors will be honing some very narrow margins indeed as they prepare to impress Ms Davis.