Glaxo Wellcome, the drugs giant, has shortlisted four international
networks to pitch for its multi-million-pound non-US global advertising
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
Glaxo will start advertising next year with an initial dollars 30
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
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.