Aventis taps Golin to lead employee comms task in US

BRIDGEWATER, NJ: Golin/Harris International has won a mid-six-figure annual fee employee communications assignment from Aventis Pharmaceuticals, the American arm of Strasbourg, France-based Aventis.

BRIDGEWATER, NJ: Golin/Harris International has won a mid-six-figure annual fee employee communications assignment from Aventis Pharmaceuticals, the American arm of Strasbourg, France-based Aventis.

Golin will work on employee communications for Aventis Pharmaceuticals' sales, marketing, and medical affairs staff worldwide, said Chris Smith, senior director of communications, global commercial operations, for Aventis Pharmaceuticals.

The sales force alone totals 20,000 people. Smith didn't have employee numbers for the other areas with which Golin will work.

The contract marks the first time Aventis' US operations have taken on a PR firm to work on employee communications, Smith said. The search took three months. Smith would not discuss which other firms were contacted, nor would he go into detail about what Golin will be doing. "Aventis doesn't talk about its agency relationships, Smith said.

Golin's employee communications practice, headed by EVP Keith Burton, who also is managing director of the agency's central region, has won several significant new tasks of late, including work for McDonald's.

Aventis' major issue in recent days has been reassuring the investment community that it has a full pipeline of new drugs ready to come to market.

The company announced in June that it had seven new products in development that it expects to have on the market by 2006. Each is expected to generate at least $1 billion in annual sales.

The company faces generic threats to its popular Allegra and Delix products by 2004.

Created by the merger of German-based Hoechst and France-based Rhone-Poulenc, Aventis has pledged earnings-per-share growth of 25%-30% between 2002 and 2004.

Some analysts have expressed doubts about that target given the highly competitive nature of the pharmaceutical market. Aventis Pharmaceuticals' 2001 sales were $5.8 billion.

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