The review is for the company's prescription and over-the-counter brands. Schering-Plough spent $265 million in measured media in the U.S. last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.
Four holding companies
Schering-Plough's marketing chief, Herb Ehrenthal, could not be reached at press time, but executives close to the review said WPP Group, Havas, Omnicom Group and Publicis Groupe are all believed to be involved. WPP's Ogilvy & Mather, New York, handles Schering-Plough's biggest brand, the $85 million account for Claritin, the wildly successful allergy medication that went over-the-counter in 2002. WPP's Quantum Group, Parsippany, N.J., handles Clarinex, the prescription medication successor to Claritin.
Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, New York, handles another Schering-Plough allergy medication in Nasonex. Havas' Euro RSCG has several OTC products, including Dr. Scholl's footcare and Coppertone sun tanning lotions.
Strong Saatchi ties
Though Publicis has little to no Schering-Plough business, its Saatchi & Saatchi agency has strong ties to Schering-Plough CEO Fred Hassan, dating to when Mr. Hassan ran Pharmacia, which was acquired by Pfizer in 2003.
According to executives, a meeting took place in April in Paris in which various networks made preliminary presentations. After whittling down to four holding companies, Schering-Plough then asked for a written submission from the holding companies, which included such questions as to how the holding companies will handle conflicts. The submission, described by one agency president as "lengthy," was originally due June 18, but holding companies have apparently been given an extension.
Schering-Plough is following in the footsteps of fellow pharmaceutical makers AstraZeneca and Sanofi-Synthelabo. AstraZeneca consolidated its $192 million business with Publicis and WPP early in 2003, while Sanofi consolidated its $235 million ad budget with Publicis in December.