Walgreens Chooses OMD to Handle Media After Review

Omnicom Group Shop Will Handle $240 Million Media-Planning and Buying Business

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Omnicom Group's OMD has been picked to handle media duties for pharmacy chain Walgreens.

OMD will be responsible for U.S. and Puerto Rico media-buying and planning, including multicultural, digital and mobile work. The business will be led from OMD's Chicago office. The media review, which was overseen by consultancy R3:JLB, followed a creative review last year that made OMD's sibling agency, GSD&M in Austin, Walgreens' creative agency of record.

"To support our vision of becoming the first choice for health and daily living, we are pleased to select OMD to manage Walgreens key media channels and look forward to working with them," said Graham Atkinson, Walgreens' CMO and customer experience officer, in a statement. "The agency's expertise across all media channels will help us efficiently deliver our marketing messages in both the evolving retail and healthcare markets."

The review ends the Deerfield, Illinois company's decade-long relationship with Publicis Groupe 's Starcom. Starcom attempted to defend the business, while Interpublic Group of Cos.' Initiative was also a part of the final round of the review.

In January, a spokeswoman said in a statement that newspaper circulars would not be included in the review, but TV, radio, print, out-of -home and digital media would all be under scrutiny. At the time, the spokeswoman also said, "We've had a very good relationship with Starcom, which is why we want them to participate in the review."

OMD, which had a very successful 2011 on the new-business front, spent most of 2012 focused on its existing business. The agency currently works with McDonald's and State Farm out of its Chicago office.

For Starcom, it's a significant loss considering the agency's long relationship with the brand and its Midwestern ties. In 2011, the agency won the Novartis buying and planning account and took on AB InBev planning business, but last year's new business activity was lacking and the firm lost its massive General Motors account last January.

Walgreens was the 78th largest advertiser in the U.S., spending a total of $489 million on advertising, in 2011, according to Ad Age 's DataCenter . According to Kantar Media, the national pharmacy and retail chain spent $291.8 million on U.S. measured media in 2012, up from $223.9 in 2011.

The agency change comes as the national pharmacy chain, which has about 8,000 locations in the U.S., is expanding its offerings, adding: services at its pharmacies and clinics, grocery items and fresh food in stores, enhanced beauty departments and more investment in private label.

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