GSK picks Wag Ed for global vaccines brief

RIXENSART/LONDON: GlaxoSmithKline has signed up Waggener Edstrom to advise on global corporate comms strategy across its growing vaccines business.

The appointment follows a shootout believed to have included Weber Shandwick and a joint bid from WPP agencies Cohn & Wolfe and Burson-Marsteller.

The hire comes as the pharma firm ramps up its investment in comms for GSK Biologicals. It has also created the role of worldwide corporate external communications head – and installed Chris Hunter-Ward in the post.

Hunter-Ward moves to Rixensart, Belgium, from a London role as GSK corporate media relations director.

GSK has more than 30 marketed vaccines, with 25 in development. Planned launches include the hotly anticipated Cervarix for cervical cancer.

Although Wag Ed has a technology heritage, it positions itself as an ‘innovation comms’ specialist. It currently works for GE Healthcare in Europe, and worked for Corixa, the Seattle-based vaccine technology outfit acquired by GSK last year.

Wag Ed UK MD Paul Abrahams covered the pharma sector during his 15 years at the Financial Times. He leads an agency team on the GSK brief that will include staff in London and the US.

GSK continues to use New York’s Global Health Strategies for corporate comms around its vaccines for diseases common in the developing world.

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