GlaxoSmithKline Chooses PHD for Media Chores

Pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline has selected Omnicom’s PHD to handle its $700 million U.S. media assignment after a review, the client has confirmed.
PHD, considered an underdog in the review, knocked off the incumbent—WPP’s MediaCom—and two other contenders: Publicis Groupe’s Starcom and Havas’ MPG.
For MediaCom, it’s a stunning loss (one of its biggest clients) and the latest in a series of setbacks including the recent losses of its $130 million Diageo account as well as its planning assignment for Olive Garden, a unit of restaurant holding company Darden. In addition, another prestige account—toymaker Hasbro, which spends around $115 million annually on ads—went into review earlier this month.

MediaCom did win Revlon and Travelers earlier in the year, however.
“Throughout the review process, PHD demonstrated impressive creativity and strategic planning savvy, which they paired with a highly competitive cost base,” said Jim Martin, vp of procurement at GSK. “We were also impressed by their digital media innovations, and we believe they are the best possible partner to lead us into the future.”
Page Thompson, CEO North America at Omnicom Media Group, PHD’s parent company, said, “The PHD team is poised to bring worldwide best practices, innovations and buying power to this strategic alliance.”
A transition period will extend from January through March, with an official start date of April 1, 2011, the client said.

It’s a second huge win for PHD in a week. Last Thursday, it won the consolidated Gap business, with spending of about $350 million globally.

MediaCom CEO Doug Checkeris said the shop was “proud of the work we did” for the client. While some staff reductions will be unavoidable as a result of the loss, Checkeris said the agency would do its best to minimize any cuts.