Pharma company GlaxoSmithKline is putting its nearly $700 million U.S. media assignment into review, the client has confirmed.
The incumbent is WPP Group's MediaCom, which is expected to defend.
The client noted the last time GSK held a formal media review was in 2001, when MediaCom was awarded buying chores. In 2007, the client consolidated all planning duties with the agency as well.
The review covers all of GSK's U.S. activities, which are comprised of two major divisions: consumer healthcare and pharmaceutical businesses.
According to a client representative, GSK has already reached out to "several leading media holding companies, including GroupM."
The review is designed to "help position GSK for future growth by ensuring we are benefiting from world-leading strategic planning services and innovation, along with media buying effectiveness and efficiency," the rep said.
"Media is a significant investment for GSK, and we will continue to monitor and seek improved effectiveness for our investments in this area," the rep added.
Ark Advisors in Playa del Rey, Calif., is said to be managing the search.
According to Nielsen, the client spent $690 million on ads last year, down 14 percent from 2008. From January to June of this year, GSK spent $415 million, per Nielsen.
This summer, the client's consumer healthcare division concluded a media review in a half-dozen European markets including the U.K. In that competition, MediaCom retained its planning and buying assignment.
But GSK did shift media duties in five other markets from MediaCom to Publicis' Starcom MediaVest Group. The client identified those markets as Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain and Portugal.
Total spending in the markets reviewed was close to $200 million, according to sources. About half of that total is spent in the U.K.