CIA Medianetwork and Quantum Strike Alliance

Joint Effort Will Help Companies Compete in DTC Category
LOS ANGELES–CIA Medianetwork and The Quantum Group, the consumer arm of healthcare marketing company CommonHealth, have joined forces in a “strategic alliance” to compete in the direct-to-consumer (DTC) category.
The alliance gives CIA an entry in the category and the addition of Quantum’s estimated $150 million in media billings to its current U.S. total of $600 million.
For its part, Quantum gets a mainstream media-agency partner to help it compete against a challenge from traditional shops in the DTC space.
In October 1997, the Federal Trade Commission revised its guidelines for broadcast drug advertising, opening a floodgate of media spending by pharmaceutical companies and sparking an influx of traditional agencies into the category. DTC advertisers spent $1.8 billion in 1999, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
“Two years ago, a typical pitch would include us, three other healthcare agencies and maybe one consumer agency,” said Matt Geigerich, Quantum president. “Today, it’s us competing against Madison Avenue agencies.”
CommonHealth is a WPP company and CIA is partly owned by WPP, but both sides said the link was a bonus, not a catalyst, for the deal. (WPP’s media arm, MindShare, could not be considered an ally because of conflicts.)
“The fact that WPP partly owned them was actually a surprise to some of us,” said Geigerich. “We went out on a mission to find a media partner that had a level of expertise and understanding of our business … Unlike a lot of other people we talked to, CIA has a real appreciation of the differences between drug marketing and other categories.”
Tom Sassos, CIA’s CEO, said of DTC advertising, “There’s a patent period. At the end of seven years, you have no brand; there’s a gatekeeper. “You have to get people to go to a doctor for a prescription; and there’s an element of compliance with government requirements … DTC media is a specialty.”
Quantum Group handles clients such as Schering-Plough, Mead Johnson & Co. and SmithKline Beecham, among others.