Schering-Plough seeks OTC media shop

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Schering-Plough Corp. is on the hunt for an agency to handle media buying and planning for its healthcare products, including over-the-counter drugs, footcare and suncare products, with estimated billings of $50 million.

True North Communication's TN Media handles the national broadcast buying; the remainder is handled in-house.

The review was first reported by Adage.com and is being conducted by Achenbaum Bogoda Partners, Dallas and New York. Several shops received requests for proposals. Zenith Media, jointly owned by Cordiant Communications Group's and Publicis Groupe, is the media buying and planning agency of record for Schering's prescription drugs, including anti-allergins Claritin and Nasonex. Zenith was awarded the $200 million account without a review in March.

Schering officials did not return calls at press time.

Last year, the agency held a review for the prescription drug account, and the final round included Zenith, Havas Advertising's Media Planning and Omnicom Group's Creative Media, both New York. But the pharmaceutical marketer put the brakes on the process and handed the business back to the incumbent, Interpublic Group of Cos.' Lowe Lintas & Partners. Zenith was given the account this year after Schering became disappointed in Lowe, although the agency continues to handle the drugmaker's creative account.

Schering has traditionally kept the pharmaceutical side of the business separate from healthcare products, but it is likely to change that position in the face of the latest trends. Its closest competitors have been consolidating media. Bristol Myers awarded its consolidated account recently to WPP Group's MindShare and Pfizer consolidated at Aegis Group's Carat. If Schering follows their lead, then Zenith, may become the beneficiary.

Schering's OTC account includes Afrin nasal decongestants, Chlor-Trimeton allergy products, Drixoral cough, cold and allergy medications, Correctol and Feen-A-Mint laxatives and A&D ointments. Schering's footcare products include Scholl's brands, Lotrimin AF and Tinactin antifungal products. Coppertone is the lead Schering suncare brand. According to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR, combined spending for the brands in review in 2000 was more than $48 million.

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