Pharmacia Seeks Shop to Lead Branding Effort

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Pharmacia & Upjohn has quietly approached agencies about a corporate branding assignment, according to executives familiar with the marketer's plans. The new assignment is believed to be for the combined company that will be created by Pharmacia's upcoming merger with Monsanto Corp.

One agency said the assignment also could include direct-to-consumer prescription drug accounts.

Drug marketer Pharmacia sent out a briefing that includes a list of its Rx and over-the-counter products to give agencies a sense of what the company is about, executives said. Agencies were asked to send credentials and a letter to consultant Mark Rothman & Associates, New York.

$27 BIL Deal

Pharmacia announced plans in December to purchase Monsanto in a deal valued at $27 billion. Pharmacia makes the strong-selling bladder control medication Detrol, while Monsanto produces the highly successful arthritis medication Celebrex. Earlier this month, the two companies announced that Pharmacia Corp. would serve as the new company's name.

Spending on the account could not be determined at press time. Corporate-image campaigns often include Sunday-morning TV and newsweeklies in a bid to appeal to current and potential shareholders.

A Pharmacia spokesman said the company has not launched a corporate image review and instead is focusing on gaining shareholder and regulatory approval for the merger.

It is likely an image campaign will seek to position Pharmacia Corp. as a world-class pharmaceutical developer and marketer similar to a recent effort launched by Aventis, a drug company created by the merger of Rhone-Poulenc Rorer and Hoechst Marion Roussel.

"Whenever you raise awareness and get people interested in the story, they buy the stock and the stock goes up," said Corey Davis, an analyst with Hambrecht & Quist.

Moving to Peapack

In a bid to vault into the top ranks of U.S. drugmakers, Pharmacia recently shifted the company's headquarters from Kalamazoo, Mich., to Peapack, N.J., to be in the hub of America's top pharmaceutical companies. Pharmacia CEO Fred Hassan will lead the combined company, which had aggregate 1999 sales of $17 billion.

The merger was driven in part by Pharmacia's desire to gain some control over Monsanto's Celebrex, according to Mr. Davis. Celebrex last year was the most successful drug launch ever. The drug, which is co-marketed by Pfizer, also has a much-anticipated successor in the pipeline.

"That's probably the main reason they bought" Monsanto, Mr. Davis said.

Pharmacia Corp. also will have a strong presence in the OTC consumer healthcare business with Pharmacia brands such as Kaopectate, NasalCrom and Rogaine.

Another part of the merger entails Monsanto's agricultural business becoming a standalone company. It is expected that division will be spun off in an initial public offering.

Contributing: Laura Petrecca.

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