GSK plans to reinvent consumer brand image

GlaxoSmithKline's global consumer comms director has revealed a strategy to reinvent the company as a high-profile consumer brand.

Fresh faces: McGibbon has made a number of appointments
Fresh faces: McGibbon has made a number of appointments

Speaking to PRWeek, Leslie McGibbon, vice-president, global comms, consumer healthcare, said the consumer arm of GSK was ‘one of the company’s best kept secrets’ and GSK ‘wanted to be seen as a more general healthcare company’.

To help turn this around, Disney Destinations International head of publicity Sarah Hodson joined the firm in July for a new role as head of brand PR, sponsorship and digital. Hodson had also worked as head of PR at WHSmith.

McGibbon said: ‘At the heart of my joining one year ago and recruiting Sarah, who has a background at a world-leading brand, is to have a far higher profile for the consumer brand.

‘Until the past couple of years it has been run as a division of a big pharma business. The new challenges are to look at how the company can run the consumer division as an FMCG division.’

McGibbon added that Hodson’s digital role would be to develop a ‘content and engagement’ strategy, while leading the brand into earned media over advertising.

Hodson will also be closely involved with the consumer roster review, which has been taking place since January.

Since his arrival, McGibbon has brought in talent from companies including Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Unilever and P&G.

As well as brand PR, the consumer function now encompasses internal engagement, customer relations and an integrated public affairs strategy.

GSK’s consumer arm, which had a turnover of £1.33bn during Q1 of 2012, encompasses products such as Sensodyne, Lucozade and Horlicks.

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