By Arun Sudhaman

PARIS: Pharmaceutical giant Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) has called a review of its global marketing communications spend, asking holding groups to take part in a reverse auction where vendors compete to lower their prices.

The company is seeking greater consolidation across its PR, medical education and advertising accounts, which are currently split among a number of agencies worldwide, and are believed to be worth more than $500 million.

Bristol Myers Squibb international communications executive director Patrice Grand told the Holmes Report that the exercise had begun in Europe but “will become global”, addressing corporate and product communication.

“We’ve been using the holding company approach for several years but we’re going further in that direction now,” said Grand.

Grand also defended the decision to ask agencies to take part in a reverse auction as part of the pitch. “We have a purchasing department that is managing this process. From their experience that is the best process to get the best agency proposals.”

Grand added that BMS is “not necessarily” aiming to consolidate with one holding group. He also said that the company currently works with agencies from a number of holding groups, including WPP and Omnicom. “It’s very fragmented.”

“We’re looking at the relationships with our agencies and how to synergise between various activities,” said Grand.