February 27, 2009

Pfizer – Wyeth Merger

On January 25th, Pfizer leapfrogged over the tradition of buying smaller research companies to purchase Wyeth for 68 billion dollars. With their forces combined, Pfizer/Wyeth becomes the 4th largest US-based company; Exxon, Walmart, and Proctor & Gamble hold the top three spots. The merger process can be complicated and delicate to finagle on the finance end but the branding or re-branding process should be approached with just as much care.

During a re-branding of this size it is important to approach the naming process with an open mind; having the larger company name always win out over the smaller company name might not always be the best choice for company morale or client impressions. The four naming options, as I see them are:

1. One or the Other—picking one of the company names
2. Biggie Sized Combo – combining both full names
3. Hybrid—combining parts of each company name meaningfully
4. The Road Less Traveled—choosing an entirely new name

So far it seems that Pfizer will be choosing the first option but the history of pharmaceutical mergers provides examples of all the options. Here are a few:

Option 1- One or the Other:
Celltech + UCB =UCB
Bayer + Roche Consumer Health =Bayer

Option 2 – Combo:
Alliance Unichem + Boots = Alliance Boots
Bayer + Schering = Bayer Schering

Option 3 – Hybrid Combo:
Medirace + Evans =Medeva
Glaxo Wellcome + Smith Kline Beecham= GlaxoSmithKline

Option 4 – New Name:
Hoechst Marion Roussel + Rhone Poulenc Rorer = Aventis Pharmaceuticals
Ciba-Geigy + Sandoz =Novartis

What direction would you like to see the company go in?

Contributed by Evelyn Chapin

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