MED SHOP ADDS CONSUMER UNIT;COMMONHEALTH'S QUANTUM BOASTS $100 MIL BILLINGS

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Top medical ad agency CommonHealth USA is responding to the explosion in direct-to-consumer advertising and healthcare marketing by forming a unit called Quantum Consumer.

Quantum will get under way with $100 million in billings from clients including Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.'s Boost and Sustacal brands from its Mead Johnson Nutritional Group; Janssen Pharmaceutica's Sporonox anti-fungal; and Schering-Plough Corp.'s booming allergy brand Claritin.

BILLINGS UP 7.7%

Overall worldwide billings for Parsippany, N.J.-based CommonHealth, a division of Thomas Ferguson Associates, climbed 7.7% last year to $417 million, according to Advertising Age (AA, April 15).

The agency ranks first in its category in worldwide income, with $73.2 million in 1995.

"Forming the unit is a formalization to tell the client universe that we have the consumer capability, something they can easily identify," said Kathy Erskine Jenkins, Quantum managing partner and executive creative director. "However, we've been doing consumer advertising for over five years."

Ms. Erskine's previous experience is on the consumer side, with stints at Young & Rubicam, Grey Advertising and Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising.

The formation of consumer units has become common as healthcare marketing budgets have increased with the shift from the targeting of doctors to the more costly focus on consumers. Consumers represent a larger target audience and one that requires more education through advertising in mainstream media.

DTC ADS UP 40%

Direct-to-consumer advertising rose 40% last year to more than $333 million, according to Competitive Media Reporting, through the previously unheard-of budgets behind prescription drugs such as $40 million for Glaxo Wellcome's Flonase allergy spray, $38.7 million for Pharmacia & Upjohn's Rogaine hair solution and nearly $40 million behind Claritin (AA, March 25).

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