Schering joins spate of media-buying reviews

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Schering-Plough Corp. is conducting a review for its $145 million in media billings, becoming the latest in a growing line of marketers to put its media prize up for grabs in recent months.

The pharmaceuticals company sent out letters saying the review will cover buying for all media, including print and TV.


Though a list of participating agencies was unavailable at press time, it is believed Lowe & Partners/SMS, New York is among the contenders. At least two other agencies declined invitations to pitch the business because of conflicts.

Just two months ago, Lowe was awarded media planning and buying responsibilities for Schering-Plough's prescription allergy relief drug Claritin, supported by a hefty $60 million in direct-to-consumer media. Most other media has been handled in-house.

Executives at Schering-Plough and Lowe couldn't be reached for comment at press time.

Some of Schering-Plough's other well-known brands include Coppertone tanning products, Drixoral and Chlor-Trimeton allergy/sinus products, Dr. Scholl's, Tinactin, Lotrimin AF and Gyne-Lotrimin.


Prescription allergy remedy Vancenase is expected to eventually receive significant direct-to-consumer ad support as well.

Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG handles creative for most of the brands, many of which were shifted recently from Warwick Baker & O'Neill.

Claritin creative is done by WPP Group's Thomas Ferguson Associates, Parsippany, N.J.

The Schering-Plough review comes on the heels of a $90 million direct-to-consumer media review for another pharmaceutical giant, Glaxo Wellcome. That review started with some 20 roster shops and is now down to three finalists--Grey Advertising, Media Edge and Zenith Media, all New York.

"It certainly seems like the Schering review is in reaction to what Glaxo is doing," said one agency media executive. "They're looking for professional media advice in what is becoming an increasingly competitive category."

Furthermore, the Glaxo review has changed the rules for pharmaceutical/healthcare accounts, the executive said.

In the past, for example, an agency might represent one marketer's anti-depressant medicine and another's allergy-relief drug.

"Now, we're hearing that if we have all of one pharmaceutical's media, we can't take anything from a competitor," the media executive said. "This could have a major impact for a number of big agencies in the category."

Copyright May 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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