Wellcome transfers Alka-Seltzer to Bayer

Pharmaceutical giant, Bayer is to reclaim the sales and distribution of its Alka-Seltzer brand in the UK from Warner Wellcome starting next January as predicted in Marketing Week (December 16, 1994).

Warner Wellcome product manager Nick Wall says the details of this transfer have not yet been finalised but adds that the advertising and marketing strategy for the product will remain unchanged.

Bayer has also appointed Patrick Johnson as consumer care manager in the UK. His portfolio includes Alka-Seltzer, Autan, Delial and Lasonil.

Johnson says: “We are in the process of formulating marketing plans for each of the products with the combined aim of making us one of the top ten OTC companies by the turn of the century.”

Meanwhile, confusion surrounds Bayer AG’s advertising after an announcement from Leverkusen in Germany that it has called for a review of some of its global brands.

McCann-Erickson, which handles the Alka-Seltzer business in the UK, is one of the brands purported to be involved in the review. It says it has not heard anything from Bayer.

McCann-Erickson managing director Mark Gault says: “Bayer swings widely between gross over-centralisation and gross freedom for its suppliers. This time, I think the move has to do with the fact that Bayer bought back its trading name from Miles Laboratories in the US about 12 months ago.

“Now Bayer has critical mass in the US, but it also has a roster of agencies it didn’t have before. Bayer has obviously decided to look at this situation but we have heard nothing.”

Bayer has reportedly asked New York agencies, including BBDO, McCann-Erickson and Foote Cone & Belding, to repitch for a number of global brands including Alka-Seltzer, Bayer aspirin and two insecticides. BBDO has the US aspirin account and FCB handles Bayer’s corporate US business.

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