GSK Merges Anti-Smoking, Anti-Obesity Units

NEW YORK GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare is consolidating its anti-smoking and anti-obesity brands under a single marketing unit in Parsippany, N.J. — a move that will trigger layoffs. The new division will be headed by a new marketing chief, vp for behavioral sciences Karen Scollick.

Scollick was previously general manager of GSK Consumer Healthcare in Canada. She replaces Steve Burton on the Alli diet drug brand, who left his position in June. On the smoking brands — including NicoDerm CQ, Nicorette and Commit — she replaces Bill Slivka, who is transitioning to a more strategic role, said GSK rep Malesia Dunn. The units were previously based in Pennsylvania.

The lead agency for all the above brands is Havas-owned Arnold, which also has a new leader for its anti-smoking accounts: Scott Caristo was named svp, group director in May.

Dunn said she expects no changes to the agency lineup.

The move is intended to allow both franchises to “work closer in collaboration,” Dunn said. It comes after the anti-smoking brands have experienced lost sales. Between them, the brands are behind 18-31 percent through June 15 this year, compared to the same period last year, according to IRI. (Those numbers exclude Wal-Mart and Costco.) The declines were partly due to Pfizer introducing Chantix, a prescription anti-smoking drug.

Alli launched last year and is already ahead in terms of sales, according to IRI.

GSK spent $80 million-plus on ads for Alli last year and more than $55 million through April, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. GSK spent $30 million and $15 million on Nicorette in those same periods; NicoDerm got $30 million and $12 million; and Commit got about $30 million and $10 million. Both franchises are seasonal, with the New Year period being their key times.

Dunn said she did not know how many layoffs there would be. The process is expected to take the rest of the summer, with the physical move to Parsippany completed by the end of the year.