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.”

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here