PLAYER OF THE WEEK;MOVE TO GREY PROVIDES REMEDY FOR FOTIADES;HEALTHCARE PRO TO RE-APPLY HIS BRAND-BUILDING SKILL TO ROGAINE, OTHER CLIENTS

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Grey advertising has hired the former president of Warner Wellcome Consumer Health Products Group to oversee its U.S. healthcare accounts.

Taking the title of exec VP at the New York-based agency, George Fotiades will oversee such accounts as Pharmacia & Upjohn, American Home Products Corp. and Ciba-Geigy Corp.

"It's not often that an agency can attract such a high-caliber executive from the client side to its senior management ranks," noted Ed Meyer, Grey chairman-CEO.

Mr. Fotiades, 42, called his decision "very Grey-specific. I didn't just want to go to any agency." He said he left the joint venture of Warner-Lambert Co. and Glaxo Wellcome because as his responsibilities grew, his involvement in advertising decreased.

"Without a doubt, the parts of the business I enjoy the most are positioning the brands, building brands and consumer communication," Mr. Fotiades said.

At Warner-Lambert, he worked on such brands as Listerine, Benadryl, Sudafed and Lubriderm.

The joint venture, formed in 1994 from Warner-Lambert Consumer Healthcare, also was preparing the OTC launch of acid blocker Zantac 75.

Mr. Fotiades said the opportunities in over-the-counter drug marketing are huge.

"These companies are thirsting for ideas," he said. "It's a highly competitive marketplace, with both branded and private-label products. With my experience, I hope I can get inside their heads as they assess risks and encourage them to be aggressive."

OTC moves will loom large and immediate for Mr. Fotiades. His first major challenge at Grey will be to help Upjohn with its over-the-counter launch of the anti-baldness drug Rogaine, approved for OTC sale this month by Food & Drug Administration.

Challengers are already lining up. Bausch & Lomb and Lemmon Co. are seeking to come out with generic competitors to Rogaine and have received tentative approval from the FDA.

Mr. Fotiades' first meeting with key contacts at Upjohn came just moments before the FDA granted OTC approval to Rogaine. He called the timing a "good omen."

Rogaine is expected to be available for OTC sale by April; Grey has been asked to prepare a $35 million TV campaign.

Despite the expiration of Rogaine's patent protection and early interest from potential rivals, Upjohn and Grey are hoping for an uncluttered market. The FDA is weighing a three-year extension of exclusive marketing rights for the drug (AA, Feb. 19).

Mr. Fotiades also will have responsibility for such brands as American Home Products' Anacin and Preparation H, and Ciba-Geigy's Maalox.

Initially, Mr. Fotiades will be concentrating on the U.S. for Grey. Of his three primary clients, only Ciba-Geigy is a Grey client outside the U.S. But Bob Berenson, president of Grey's New York office, made it clear that Mr. Fotiades' responsibilities will grow geographically if Grey can stretch the boundaries of its client relationships-or add new clients.

Before Warner-Lambert, Mr. Fotiades spent several years at American Home Products and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. At the latter, he worked with Grey on Clairol in Japan. Earlier, he spent 11 years at Procter & Gamble Co., another Grey client.

Back at Warner Wellcome, Morgan Morton succeeds Mr. Fotiades, from VP-president of Warner-Lambert Shaving Products Group.

At Grey, Mr. Fotiades succeeds Herb Lieberman, who is retiring after 41 years with the agency. Despite the fact that Mr. Fotiades is succeeding a Grey veteran, Mr. Berenson believes his new healthcare marketing expert will "be able to connect overnight." ===========================================================

GEORGE FOTIADES

Age: 42

Education: Undergraduate degree from Amherst College; MBA from Northwestern University

Career highlights: Eleven years with Procter & Gamble, rising to general manager-antiperspirants & deodorants; three years at American Home Products; two years at Bristol-Myers Squibb, where he became president, Clairol Consumer Products, Japan; three years at Warner-Lambert Healthcare, where he served as president, leaving in December 1995.

Other activities: Committee chairman, Non-prescription Drug Manufacturers Association

Personal: Married; three children

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