Viacom Rx for Pfizer

Jun 18, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Pfizer is discussing an integrated marketing pact with Viacom Plus that would be worth more than $100 million.
Lead steed on the deal would be CBS, where Viagra and Celebrex maker Pfizer (including Warner Lambert) spent about $78 million last year, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres’ CMR.
It would be the second richest Viacom Plus deal to date, following the company’s recent $300 million pact with Procter & Gamble.
And it comes on the heels of a recently closed ABC Unlimited pact with Toys R Us worth about $25 million, sources said, that includes a number of TV and print properties of ABC parent Walt Disney Co.
While no one at Viacom would comment on the negotiations, and no executives at Pfizer agency Carat USA could be reached, one manager familiar with the talks put the chances of the deal happening at “50-50.” However, Viacom President and COO Mel Karmazin told Electronic Media last week that the company was indeed working on a Viacom Plus deal similar to the one it struck with P&G, declining to identify the client.
Talk of the integrated marketing deals and discussions comes as the cat and mouse game that’s characterized this year’s upfront marketplace continued. There was some excitement on Friday as word spread along Madison Avenue that NBC had a deal or two on the table with cost-per-thousand decreases of up to 5 percent.
“I know of at least one deal in that range that’s seriously being considered at NBC,” said one buyer who both requested anonymity and declined to identify the client involved. The buyer did say that the client had a relatively high CPM base at NBC, which is why the Peacock Network was considering going along with the deal.
Other sources said the deals might not be consummated because the clients involved were pushing for even steeper CPM rollbacks.
NBC President of Advertising Sales Keith Turner did not return phone calls.
As more and more budgets were registered, sellers were getting over the shock that spending could be down significantly compared to last year.
A spokesman for one of the nation’s biggest buyers of TV time, Starcom USA, said the money its clients have budgeted for TV ads is significantly down compared to last year, with a 20 percent drop for network TV spending, 29 percent for cable TV, and 51 percent for syndication.
In general, most buyers and sellers agreed that those numbers were higher than the average cutbacks. For example, one cable network president estimated that cable spending would be down “eight to 18 percent.”
Furthermore, a number of buyers and sellers said this year, more than in any recent years, was one in which clients were playing hide the salami. “That’s the game where the agencies say a client has a certain amount of money, and then, after they’ve beaten you up on price, all of a sudden they say there’s this additional money you can have, and they try and beat you up on price some more.”
Of the Big 3 broadcast networks, CBS appears to be in the best position. With prime-time CPMs on average about 15 percent lower at CBS than NBC, CBS is trying to convince marketers to spend a bigger share on the network, which could still let them show lower CPMs overall, depending upon the deals they get from other networks.