Media networks braced for GSK review

GlaxoSmithKline is planning a global, region-by-region, review of its estimated £500 million media spend.

The pharmaceutical giant has already reviewed its £30 million business in Central and Eastern Europe, where it appointed Starcom, after a pitch against Universal McCann, and is now conducting a pitch process in the Middle East. The review is then expected to progress to Western Europe and North America.

MediaCom is the incumbent on the £43 million GSK UK media account, as well as the £200 million US business. It won both tasks in 2001, when the business consolidated after GlaxoWellcome and SmithKline Beecham merged.

Its UK spend is focused on consumer healthcare products such as Aquafresh and NiQuitin. GSK also spends £14 million on advertising for nutritional healthcare brands such as Lucozade and Ribena.

GSK's local creative agency arrangements are not under review. In the UK, the bulk of its business is handled by Grey and M&C Saatchi.

Andy Bolden, the media director at GSK, denied that the Central and Eastern Europe review was a trigger for a global review. He said: "This is not a signal we are undergoing a change. Central and Eastern Europe made the decision at the end of 2006, because of big step-changes in its business."

Asked if the review would extend to Western Europe, Bolden said: "I can't comment on that. I don't have any plans, but that doesn't preclude local markets."