GLAXO CONTACTS AGENCIES ABOUT $90 MIL MEDIA ACC'T: POTENTIAL CONSOLIDATION COMES AS DTC DRUG ADVERTISING IS EXPLODING

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Pharmaceutical marketer Glaxo Wellcome is contacting agencies about a potential review of the media assignment for its $90 million in direct-to-consumer drug advertising, currently split among 13 roster agencies.

Atlanta-based consultancy Bedford Group has been hired to assist Glaxo as it looks at marketing efficiencies during a time of companywide re-engineering. Executives close to Glaxo said it is in the process of looking at all internal and external operations.

ROSTER, OUTSIDE SHOPS

Select roster agencies have received a letter from Glaxo informing them they are considering changes in agency duties as part of the re-engineering, but no timetable has been given as to when a review could happen.

Glaxo's roster agencies are Robert A. Becker Inc.; BJK&E Health Services; Grey Healthcare; Harrison & Star; the Klemtner Advertising unit of Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising; Lowe McAdams Healthcare; Lally, McFarland & Pantello; Kallir, Phillips, Ross; Sandler Communications; Sudler & Hennessey, all New York, as well as McCann Healthcare, Chicago, and McCaffrey & Co., Montclair, N.J.

FCB Healthcare, San Francisco, has responsibility for a $5 million HIV consumer education campaign currently running, and is said to have been apprised of the review as well.

Grey Healthcare handles the bulk of Glaxo's important direct-to-consumer accounts, including Flonase and Serevent.

CHANGES AFTER JUNE

One executive close to Glaxo said a roster change in media buying won't happen until after June.

While select roster agencies have been notified about the possibility of a review, other non-roster agencies are aware of the review process and may be included, said one agency executive.

A Glaxo spokesman confirmed the search for a media agency of record could include non-roster agencies.

"We're going to look and see if this is something we can achieve," said the spokesman. "We're in the process of developing the criteria and we're not going to rush. There are no limits at this stage on which agencies-we'll be looking at wherever we can to get these efficiencies."

DIRECT-TO-CONSUMER BOOM

Although the company has no over-the-counter drugs, Glaxo's investment in the boom for direct-to-consumer advertising for prescription drugs has helped lead to the company's desire to consolidate its ballooning buying account.

Glaxo was the leading direct-to-consumer spender in 1996, with expenditures approaching $100 million.

Flonase allergy spray alone was supported by $33 million last year.

Considerable media support through the first 11 months of 1996 also went to Zantac's prescription version, with $14.5 million; Imitrex and Cerenex migraine remedies, $14.3 million and $13.5 million, respectively; and Serevent asthma inhalers, $12 million, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

Contributing: Pat Sloan, Chuck Ross, Mark Gleason.

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