Boots calls global healthcare review

Boots Healthcare International, the healthcare products division of

Boots, is in talks with agency networks about its international

advertising account.



The talks threaten WPP's domination of the Boots account.



Boots, which centralised its entire business into WPP last October,

initially spoke only to the WPP roster networks J. Walter Thompson,

Ogilvy & Mather and Young & Rubicam. However, numerous other networks,

including Scholz & Friends, were later invited to pitch. The pitch is

being handled by Agency Assessments.



The initial brief was for an over-the-counter medicine product launch,

said to be an allergy remedy. However, the brief has since been altered

and is now also expected to include the international expansion of the

much wider Boots Healthcare International range.



It is understood that activities on the pitch have been temporarily put

on hold while Boots executives make definitive decisions about the

nature and reach of the project, as well as which brands it involves.

However, one source close to the pitch said the pharmaceutical giant

wants to have creative work completed by the end of the year.



The advertising is expected to target key European markets in the first

instance, although a long-term global roll-out is also on the cards.



David McLaren, the chairman of WPP-owned Hill & Knowlton, is

co-ordinating the WPP agencies in the pitch.



It is believed that Scholz was invited to pitch because it has a proven

track record working on clients such as Warner Lambert, Chefaro

Proprietaries and Novartis Consumer Health.



However, a spokeswoman for Boots Healthcare International denied that

any non-roster agencies were involved in the talks, saying: "We haven't

entered into any briefing or pitching with any new agencies at all."

However, she added: "Various discussions have been held with a number of

agencies across a variety of products."



Media is not expected to be affected by the creative review. MindShare

won the centralised account as part of the WPP consolidation.



Boots put its £80 million global advertising business into WPP

last year in a bid to present a more consolidated image to

consumers.



The move was a blow to the company's media agency, OMD UK, as it saw

media planning and buying for Boots the Chemist, Boots Opticians,

Crookes Healthcare and Halfords move to MindShare.



The creative consolidation also saw St Luke's and Grey Advertising lose

Boots business to JWT.