GlaxoSmithKline is conducting a global review of media planning and buying for its consumer healthcare brands, and it comes as no surprise, given the company's recent asset swap with Norvartis.
In March, GSK and Norvartis closed on a $20 billion deal in which GSK absorbed Norvartis' consumer brands and vaccines, and Norvartis took on GSK's cancer drugs.
As a result of the deal, GSK employed no less than three media agencies on its consumer business (PHD, MediaCom and Starcom), setting the stage for a consolidation among roster shops. Global media spending on the account approaches $900 million.
Starcom, which previously worked for Norvartis, is not participating in this contest, leaving GSK U.S. shop PHD against MediaCom, which works for GSK in overseas markets, sources said. In a statement, GSK thanked Starcom for its work on Novartis' brands, which include Excederin, Theraflu and Lamisil. GSK's over-the-counter brands include Aquafresh, Sensodyne, Nicorette and Tums.
The two-horse race is in its late stages, with final presentations scheduled for this week, according to sources. GSK's aim is to park all the business at a single shop.
The agencies referred calls to GSK, which confirmed the search. The process is expected to conclude by the end of the month.