Drug Merger Sparks Review

GlaxoSmithKline Contacts Consultants to Manage Process
LOS ANGELES– In the wake of drug-marketing giants Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham’s announcement in January that they planned to merge, media-agency insiders immediately started speculating about a possible ac-count consolidation.
That process is now underway as newly named GlaxoSmithKline has quietly begun contacting consultants to handle a possible media review once the merger is finalized at the end of August.
Last year, Glaxo spent more than $250 million and SmithKline spent about $65 million on ads, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
The two clients’ roster shops include The Media Edge, New York, which is Glaxo’s agency, Jordan, McGrath, Case & Partners/Euro/-RSCG, New York, which does SmithKline’s print buying, and MediaCom, New York, which handles Smith-Kline’s broadcast-buying account. Agency executives were un-available for comment.
Whichever shop prevails will have a strong hand to play in the direct-to-consumer category, an advertising arena experiencing explosive growth. DTC advertising topped $1.8 billion in 1999, according to Competitive Media Reporting, as mainstream ad agencies–and increasingly, media specialists–compete for pharmaceutical business.
Just last month, CIA Media-network in New York joined forces in a strategic alliance with The Quantum Group, the consumer arm of healthcare-marketing company CommonHealth. Earlier this year, Zenith Media, New York, triumphed in a hotly contested shoot-out for AstraZeneca’s $40 million Nexium account, the successor to its highly successful Prilosec heartburn drug.
Glaxo has been one of the most aggressive players in the DTC segment, launching several major campaigns in the past year, including one for the flu drug Relenza that featured actor Wayne Knight of “Seinfeld” and “Third Rock From the Sun” fame as influenza personified. SmithKline markets Tums heartburn products as well as Nicorette anti-smoking gum. K