Glaxo begins hunt for global agency

Glaxo Wellcome, the drugs giant, has shortlisted four international networks to pitch for its multi-million-pound non-US global advertising business.

Glaxo Wellcome, the drugs giant, has shortlisted four international

networks to pitch for its multi-million-pound non-US global advertising

business.



The top-secret pitch follows the end of a joint venture agreement

between Glaxo and its rival pharmaceutical company, Warner-Lambert.

Since 1994, Warner-Lambert has marketed over-the-counter medicines on

behalf of Glaxo, including the high-profile brands, Zovirax, Beconase

and Zantac. However, Glaxo did run a corporate campaign in 1996, created

by M&C Saatchi, to mark its merger with Wellcome.



The pitch is being led from the UK by Gary Lyon, Glaxo Wellcome’s

general manager in charge of over-the-counter operations, with the help

of the Advertising Agency Register. All four agencies have been asked to

sign strict confidentiality agreements.



Zovirax, the cold-sore cream, and Beconase, the hayfever treatment, are

currently handled by Bates Dorland, while Zantac, the heartburn

treatment, is with J. Walter Thompson.



Glaxo is in discussion with these two agencies over the possibility of

them retaining the brands alongside their Warner Lambert business. It

seems likely, however, that the conflict will be too great and that the

brands will move to one of the two non-roster agencies on the

shortlist.



Glaxo will start advertising next year with an initial dollars 30

million spend.



However, the budget is expected to increase dramatically as new brands

come on the market. No-one at Glaxo was available to comment by press

time.



Warner-Lambert began joint ventures with Glaxo and Wellcome in 1993,

before the companies merged, to market over-the-counter versions of

their products in the US, Australia and Europe.



The companies dissolved the joint venture this August. Warner-Lambert

retains marketing rights for Zantac in the US and Canada, with Glaxo

regaining the brand’s rights elsewhere. Future products with the

potential to switch from prescription to over-the-counter will be

marketed by Glaxo.



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