Novartis hires marketing chief as business merger nears completion

Novartis Consumer Health company has appointed a new chief executive and centralised its pan-European media buying at CIA Medianetwork. It is also to create a top marketing position and to merge two of its business units.

Godfrey Axten, former managing director Novartis Consumer Health UK, has been made chief executive of the consumer health company.

The company was created from the merger of Novartis’ consumer health and nutrition businesses, a process due to be completed by January 1999.

Nutrition (functional foods) and consumer health (OTC) have separate marketing heads – Alasdair Paton and Joe Heron respectively. The third business unit, medical nutrition, sells direct to hospitals and has its own strategic business head who oversees marketing.

Axten says a marketing chief will be appointed to oversee the whole company: “We will look longer term to combining the OTC and functional foods divisions.”

He says the merger of the two units would result in marketing department expansion, with functional food launch plans next year.

Novartis spent 10m on advertising in the UK last year. CIA Med-ianetwork handles the UK media account and Abbott Mead Vickers.BBDO the creative work.

Axten says: “We have merged the pan-European media buying into CIA, and this will come into play from January next year. The creative accounts will stay as they are during the year.”

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