SCHERING TAPS BJK&E MEDIA FOR OTC BUYING: $50 MIL B'CAST ASSIGNMENT MAY PRESAGE SHIFT OF $7O MIL RX ACC'T

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Schering-Plough Corp. has awarded BJK&E Media, New York, its $50 million broadcast media buying business for over-the-counter drugs.

The move could presage a consolidation of the $70 million in media buying for Schering-Plough's prescription drugs, said executives close to the review.

BJK&E landed the OTC broadcast buying account after a four-month review process.

When the review began in May, it was believed to encompass the pharmaceutical marketer's entire $145 million media account, including prescription allergy drug Claritin. Schering-Plough later narrowed the focus to its OTC broadcast business.

But an executive close to the review last week said the company "decided to take it in stages." This executive believes a review of the direct-to-consumer prescription business could come soon.

RX BUYING AT LOWE/SMS

That business is mainly handled in-house and by Lowe & Partners/SMS, New York-which won media planning and buying responsibilities for Claritin earlier this year, a $60 million assignment.

Jim Lawenda, director of broadcast purchasing, coordination/production and public relations for Schering-Plough, said it's up to each division how to handle media buying.

"There's no corporate direction" to consolidate, he said.

BJK&E last week picked up responsibility for Schering-Plough's HealthCare Products division, including brands like Coppertone and Dr. Scholl's.

Schering-Plough's in-house group previously handled TV and radio buying; it will continue to handle media planning and print buying.

"We selected BJK&E Media as our media purchasing partner because we believe they can best position Schering-Plough's HealthCare Products to attain both short- and long-term strategic goals," said Steve Neumann, senior director of market research and media services at Schering-Plough.

"We bring to the party not merely the capabilities of making first-class and highly efficient buys, but buys that are focused on the needs of their brands," said Joel Kushins, BJK&E managing partner and North American media director.

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