GlaxoSmithKline inks deals with Publicis Groupe, WPP and IPG as it consolidates global ad duties into 9 shops

Publicis and WPP have been named as two of GlaxoSmithKline's biggest ad partners / Glaxosmithkline

Following the announcement that it was putting every one of its brands locally and globally under review, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has announced that it will consolidate its global estimated $1bn roster to nine agencies, inking major deals with Publicis Groupe and WPP among others.

The company wanted to reset all agency alignments following the joint venture merger between GSK and Novartis Consumer Health last year, and has done so by appointing several different agencies to handle its advertising, digital, content, PR, expert marketing and shopper marketing remits.

Four holding companies already working with the agency were understood to have been consulted in the pitch, including Omicom, Havas, Publicis and WPP – with the latter two winning elements of the account between them.

An internal Publicis email seen by The Drum indicated that the network will become “one of the two largest communications partners to GSK.”

The move is a significant one, given that WPP previously almost owned the majority of GSK’s advertising and media accounts. According to a memo sent by its French rival, it had been “working hard” to keep Publicis off the roster.

The email also indicated that Publicis has won both “global and local” scope on a range of brands, and has been appointed as agency of record for two out of four of the pharmaceutical behemoth’s “largest brands” plus its entire skin category portfolio and other regional brands.

​The win couldn’t come at a better time for Publicis, whose grip on the market has been weakening since 2014 with organic growth the lowest among its competitors. Last week it effectively became Walmart's agency of record, but in 2015 its struggle was compounded by the loss of two major accounts – Procter & Gamble's US media buying as well the Coca-Cola account.

While Publicis has thus far refused to officially comment on the GSK deal, Adage has reported that both WPP’s Grey and Publicis’ Saatchi and Saatchi have been appointed for advertising alongside IPG’s Weber Shandwick which will also handle digital, content and PR.

Havas, meanwhile, will handle advertising alongside digital and content with some help from WPP Digital on the digital side.

Edelman has been appointed to the remits of content and PR; IPG’s McCann Health and WPP’s Ogilvy Commonhealth for expert marketing; and its other agency Geometry Global for shopper marketing.

A GSK spokesperson told The Drum that agencies were evaluated on a number of different criteria, with those selected "demonstrating key capabilities, talent and capabilities on a global scale to meet our objectives".

"We will tailor agency capability category-by-category to meet their unique business needs to more effectively reach consumers with the brands," they added.

"The transition to the new model will take place over a period of time and we are currently working through the specific allocations of work by area and brand."

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