Alison Weissbrot
Jan 7, 2021

VMLY&R picks up creative AOR wins from AstraZeneca

The WPP agency will run North America creative for the pharma giant’s flu vaccine, FluMist, and a new autoimmune medication that will launch this year.

VMLY&R picks up creative AOR wins from AstraZeneca

VMLY&R has won two agency of record remits in North America for pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.

The agency will handle all creative work for FluMist, the pharma giant’s seasonal flu vaccine, and help the company launch a new autoimmune brand later this year, Campaign US has learned. VMLY&R will be responsible for both consumer and healthcare provider marketing across both brands.

VMLY&R declined to comment. AstraZeneca did not reply to requests for comment in time for publication.

The agency will not work on any business related to AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which was authorized for emergency use in the U.K. in late December, and will likely be authorized in the U.S in April.

AstraZeneca, which is headquartered in the U.K., spent $473 million on advertising in the U.S. in 2019. It’s not clear how large the FluMist and new brand account are in terms of revenues, but a source described them as “significant.”

VMLY&R had a solid year for new business, despite 2020’s turmoil. The agency was part of the winning WPP team that scooped Walgreens Boots Alliance $600 million global account from Publicis Groupe in October.

The agency, which merged with WPP commerce agency Geometry in November, won $97.5 million in year-to-date new business revenues in November 2020, per R3 Worldwide, putting it in second place in the intelligence firm’s latest U.S. new business league.

On WPP’s Q3 2020 earnings call, CEO Mark Read called out VMLY&R as “the best performing global agency,” which was down only slightly year on year.

Healthcare and pharmaceutical clients have been a growth area for agencies, as various businesses remain disrupted due to the pandemic. The U.S. healthcare and pharma industry will spend $9.53 billion on digital ads this year, according to an October eMarketer forecast.

In Q3, healthcare was the only practice to grow at Omnicom, up 3.8% year over year. In the same quarter, both IPG and Havas called out the healthcare sector as a growth area.

WPP did not break out growth figures in the healthcare and pharma sectors, but did note that the vertical makes up 12% of revenue, and called it out as a “growth platform” in a December investor update.

In a recent interview, S4 chairman and former WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell also mentioned healthcare and pharma clients as a growth opportunity.

“They are going to end up with much higher regard and trust, and therefore I think biotech and biosciences will become more important,” he said.

Campaign US

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