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Despite a portfolio of hundreds of other products, Bayer is still best known as the company that developed the mother of all pharmaceuticals, Aspirin, over 115 years ago. Almost incredibly, Aspirin remains one of Bayer's top-selling products today, with sales still in excess of $1bn annually. It was until recently part of a vast portfolio of different products ranging from polyurethane to flea control, and from antibiotics to insecticides. However, in recent years the group's massive size proved more of a liability than an asset and Bayer set about divesting a series of businesses including chemicals, material sciences, diagnostics and most recently animal health. The acquisition of domestic rival Schering in 2006 strengthened Bayer's healthcare portfolio, creating a national champion in Germany's pharmaceutical industry (though that position has come under pressure from local rival Boehringer Ingelheim). Partly in response, Bayer expanded its already substantial consumer healthcare business with the purchase of Merck & Co's OTC division for $14.2bn. In 2016, newly appointed CEO Werner Baumann launched a bold takeover bid for US crop sciences rival Monsanto. That deal was finally approved in 2018, 18 months after it was agreed, with a price-tag of $63bn. Yet it has proved disastrous. Almost immediately after completion, a US jury found that Monsanto's Round-up weedkiller caused cancer, leading to a flood of lawsuits. Further negative judgements could force a separation of Bayer's crop sciences business from its still-strong pharma and OTC divisions. Group revenues for 2021 were €44.1bn. Bayer reported a net loss of €10.5bn in 2020 as a result of a €14bn impairment charge, mostly against the Crop Science business, and a €13bn provision for litigation expenses. It was back in the black in 2021 at €1.0bn. Crop science accounted for sales of €20.2bn, with pharmaceuticals contributing €18.3bn and consumer health €5.3bn. The group's prescription drug portfolio is led by blockbusters Xarelto for thrombosis (sales of €4.7bn in 2021), supported by macular degeneration treatment Eylea (€2.9bn), and contraceptive family Mirena - also marketed as Kyleena and Jaydess - (€1.2bn). Haeomophilia treatment Kogenate/Kovaltry - a former billion-seller - remains below blockbuster status at €823m. Incredibly, combined prescription and OTC sales of Aspirin were also still well in excess of €1bn. Other important products include Adalat for heart disease, the YAZ/Yasmin contraceptive family and Adempas for pulmonary hypertension. The biggest business in Bayer's OTC portfolio is nutritional health, led by the vitamin and supplements brands One A Day, Elevit, Redoxon, Berocca and Supradyn. Combined sales were almost €1.5bn. Dermatology brands such as Bepanthen and Canesten added another €1.1bn. Other key products for allergy, cough & cold and digestive health include Claritin, Aleve, Alka-Seltzer, Rennie and Iberogast.

Capsule checked 16th July 2021

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Historical profile information for Bayer

Recent stories from Adbrands Update:

Adbrands Update 11th Mar 2022: Bayer finally managed to put some distance between its hard-pressed "environmental science" division - which makes the controversial weedkiller Roundup - and its remaining core operations. It is selling the US Roundup business to private equity firm Cinven for $2.6bn. It retains the agricultural business that formed the bulk of Monsanto, acquired in 2018.

Adbrands Daily Update 27th Oct 2020: As it continues to struggle with the fallout from its Monsanto acquisition, Bayer inked its biggest pharma deal for more than a decade. It agreed to acquire US company Asklepios BioPharmaceutical - known as AskBio - for up to $4bn, its largest pharma purchase since Schering in 2006. It will pay $2bn now, and the remainder based on future performance. The target company is a developer of gene therapy treatments and Bayer hopes to use its technology to boost its own slowing pipeline.

Adbrands Daily Update 25th Jun 2020: Under growing pressure from investors to draw a line under litigation over Roundup weedkiller, Bayer signed off on what is currently the pharma industry's largest ever financial settlement. It has set aside up to $9.6bn to settle the roughly 125,000 lawsuits which already allege that Roundup's key ingredient glyphosate caused cancer in users of the product. Another $1.25bn was set aside for any future litigation. However, that aspect of the proposed settlement was later rejected by court, and is still being negotiated. Bayer accepts no blame in the case and will continue to market Roundup, although some countries have already banned the use of glyphosate for agricultural use.

Adbrands Daily Update 20th Nov 2019: Another week, another account loss for Wunderman Thompson. Following on from the loss of its biggest Johnson & Johnson US consumer healthcare clients a month ago, the agency also bids farewell to the rather larger contingent of similar brands in the Bayer portfolio, and on a global basis too. Brands including Berocca, Canesten, Redoxon, Rennie and Supradyn are all moving to Mullen Lowe, who will now share responsibility for the full global portfolio with BBDO.

Adbrands Daily Update 21st Aug 2019: Bayer continued to shed assets, finalising terms for the transfer of its animal health unit to former Lilly subsidiary Elanco. Negotiations have been ongoing for more than six months since Bayer first mooted the divestment last year. An independent company since earlier this year, Elanco Animal Health will acquire Bayer's equivalent business for a total value of $7.6bn in cash and stock. The deal is expected to complete mid-2020. Combined sales from the merged company will be around $4.8bn, closing the gap with market-leading Zoetis. Bayer has a sizeable collection of veterinary products for food animals, but is perhaps most widely known for its companion animals products including the flea treatments Advantage/Advocate and Seresto. The deal will significantly enhance Elanco's presence in the latter segment.

Adbrands Daily Update 23rd Jul 2019: Bayer made further changes to its OTC portfolio. Following on from the sale of Coppertone, it has also agreed to divest the Dr Scholl footcare brand, which it owns in North America and Latin America only. (Reckitt Benckiser controls the brand elsewhere, where it is marketed as Scholl). The buyer is private equity fund Yellow Wood Partners, which is paying $585m for the business, a little over twice its annual sales last year. Yellow Wood also owns a collection of other beauty brands including Freeman, Real Techniques and Body Benefits.

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