DTC GROWTH PROMPTS MCCANN SPINOFF: $50 MIL IN HEALTHCARE WORK BUNDLED INTO NEW UNIT

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Keeping up with the growth of direct-to-consumer drug advertising, McCann-Erickson Worldwide has spun off its consumer healthcare accounts into a new unit, McCann-Erickson Consumer Health.

The New York-based unit will start with nine staffers handling DTC Rx products, over-the-counter drugs and managed-care providers. It will absorb the functions of Torre Lazur Consumer Healthcare, Parsippany, N.J., the McCann unit that previously handled healthcare marketing.

LEVERAGING RESOURCES

The new unit will be able to better leverage the resources of McCann-Erickson to handle larger clients, said R. Shane Kennedy, exec VP-chief operating officer of the new unit. He formerly was president of Torre Lazur.

Jack Davis, formerly exec VP-chief strategy officer at McCann, was named president of the new unit. Nan Dillon, formerly director of consumer communications at FCB Healthcare, New York, will be exec VP-chief creative officer.

WILL HANDLE PAXIL LAUNCH

The new unit opens with $50 million in billings from five clients, including the recently won $25 million launch of antidepressant Paxil from SmithKline Beecham.

The roster also includes Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Janssen Pharmaceutica and Amgen.

Consumer Health is treading on territory already staked out by others. In the past year, Foote, Cone & Belding; Jordan McGrath Case & Partners; and Lowe Group have entered the DTC ad sector, and medical ad agencies have expanded from professional into consumer work.

FCB opened a DTC shop, FCB Healthworks, last year; Lowe acquired Fusion Communications and rolled it into Lowe Healthcare; and Jordan acquired medical shop Tolzis Communications.

DTC MARKET OPEN, GROWING

Mr. Kennedy argued the DTC market is still open and growing, with no agency dominating despite all that activity.

"The [DTC] market is still in the fairly early stages. . . . I don't think we're starting out behind them," Mr. Kennedy said. "Dominance is still very much up for grabs. We feel we have the right combination."

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