Glaxo eyes $200 mil media review

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Glaxo Wellcome is believed to have tossed its $150 million to $200 million media assignment into review, just 18 months after awarding it to Young & Rubicam's Media Edge, New York.

Atlanta consultant Rich O'Gorman is said to be handling the review. He's known to have approached a handful of shops about pitching an unidentified, $150 million healthcare media account. Mr. O'Gorman told the shops they won't learn the identity of the marketer until after the initial round.

Glaxo, the largest direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertiser, consolidated its then-$90 million account at Media Edge in mid-1997. Spending has since grown; in the first eight months of this year, Glaxo spent $135 million on advertising, according to Competitive Media Reporting.


Glaxo called questions about a media review "speculation." But a company spokesman added, "As a matter of course, we are continually reviewing our business needs."

Media Edge declined comment. But an executive from another Glaxo roster agency said Glaxo has been dissatisfied with Media Edge.

The agencies that received the request for proposals declined to be named. During Glaxo's last review--also handled by Mr. O'Gorman and the Bedford Group, Atlanta--finalists included Grey Advertising, Zenith Media and J. Walter Thompson USA, all New York; and Western International Media, Los Angeles.

Grey handles planning and creative assignments for Glaxo's Flonase allergy spray as well as the Flovent and Serevent asthma inhalers. Wilson Media, New York, handles planning for Imitrex migraine treatment, Zyban anti-smoking pills and HIV drugs.

In a separate review, Glaxo has also thrown the $30 million creative account for Valtrex, an anti-viral drug, up for grabs. Incumbent KPR, New York, launched the product on TV, on the heels of the Food & Drug Administration's August 1997 relaxation of rules on TV advertising.


Other Glaxo roster agencies have received invitations to pitch the Valtrex business. The marketer has also invited agencies without pharmaceutical experience to participate. Klemtner Advertising, New York, handles Imitrex creative; FCB Healthcare, New York, has Zyban and HIV drug creative.

Glaxo also is said to be seeking an agency to handle DTC advertising for the unapproved flu prevention and treatment drug Relenza; FCB Healthcare won the professional assignment. If approved by FDA, the category is expected to become a blockbuster.

Contributing: Laura Petrecca.

Copyright December 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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