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GSK to Shift Planning on $1 Bil. Biz to MediaCom

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NEW YORK Pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline is preparing to consolidate its $1 billion-plus North American media account at WPP Group's MediaCom, according to sources. The switch is expected to take place in the second quarter of 2008.

In the consolidation, MediaCom would roughly double the amount of GSK media planning it now handles. (The shop already has most of the client's buying chores.)

Several shops now share the account, with MediaCom and Havas' MPG handling most of the business. But Omnicom Group's OMD and Publicis Groupe's Optimedia and Campbell Mithun also handled some portions of the business.

MediaCom referred calls to the client, where reps did not immediately respond. Execs at other shops either declined comment or could not be reached.

MPG handles brands with combined annual ad spending of approximately $430 million, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Those include Nicorett, Ecotrin and Citrucel. OMD handles planning for Levitra and Optimedia works on planning for Os-Cal and other products. Campbell Mithun has Breathe Right nasal strips, among other brands.

U.S. spending on the overall account was $1.1 billion in 2006 and $800 million through the first three quarters of 2007, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

The client's U.S. headquarters is based in Research Triangle Park, N.C., while the parent company is based in Uxbridge, England.

GSK competitor Eli Lilly also works with MediaCom. Sources said discussions are under way for the media team handling the $185 million Lilly business to shift to another WPP-owned media shop to address the looming conflict.