Bayer Puts $200 Million Media Account in Play

Drug Giant Opens Review of U.S. Consumer-Care Work

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NEW YORK ( -- Bayer is about to become a big headache for at least one media-agency chief.
Huge shakeup
Just a week after Advertising Age revealed that Johnson & Johnson plans to launch a huge global media shakeup after its purchase of Pfizer's over-the-counter drug brands, word comes that Bayer HealthCare, a subsidiary of German giant Bayer AG, also is going to review its media-planning and -buying arrangements for its U.S. consumer-care division.

With strong, advertising-friendly brands such as Alka-Seltzer, Bayer Aspirin, Aleve and One-A-Day vitamins, neither of the incumbents, OMD and Initiative, will want to lose the Bayer account. But, of course, one agency chief's pain will be another's gain -- to the tune of at least $180 million in billings.

Consultant Jane Twyon
Executives familiar with the situation said Bayer has retained consultant Jane Twyon of Jane Twyon Inc., New York, to run the review. According to TNS Media Intelligence, spending on the division's larger brands topped $200 million in 2005. For the first nine months of 2006, spending on nine of Bayer's well-known consumer brands was $143 million.

Currently, Bayer Consumer Care splits media-buying and -planning duties: Interpublic Group of Cos.' Initiative, New York, handles the former, and Omnicom Group's OMD, Chicago, is responsible for the latter. Spokeswomen for each company declined to comment. Initiative is expected to participate in the review, said knowledgeable executives; OMD's plans are unclear.

A spokeswoman for the marketer had no comment at press time.

Reached Dec. 1, Ms. Twyon refused to answer any questions about the review or her involvement in it.

'Plop-plop, fizz-fizz'
This fall, Bayer reintroduced its famous "Plop-plop, fizz-fizz" campaign for Alka-Seltzer, but with a twist: It is asking musicians to submit their take on the old jingle. Submissions must be between 30 seconds and two minutes in length and include the lyrics "Plop-plop, fizz-fizz, oh what a relief it is." Four finalists will be chosen by Jan. 2, and America will vote for a winner over the internet. The victor will receive $10,000 and the new version will be broadcast during the Super Bowl pregame show.

Matthew Creamer contributed to this report.
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