International healthcare giant SmithKline Beecham is testing a wholesale review of its methods for appointing UK service agencies, starting with the design industry.
The review could spell the end for the group’s current pack design roster. Formed in 1996, it comprises six design consultancies plus three strategy groups.
SB purchasing manager Deborah Walker, who is in charge of the review, says the initiative is a proactive attempt by the company to educate itself about sectors in which it is not a specialist.
A questionnaire is being sent to interested UK design groups.
“We have taken the agency roster one step back. We are taking the view that we don’t know anything about design.
“Before we can decide what the strategy should be we need to know how the industry has moved on in the past few years,” she says.
SB will review the information gathered before deciding the best way forward, which could involve appointing any number of consultancies. But it will seek to improve on the existing system.
“I don’t even know if there is going to be a roster. The problem with pitches is that they are so objective. It would be unfair to say that what we have works well,” says Walker. She declines to name groups on the current design roster.
The company may review the agency set-up in other sectors, such as sales promotion and direct marketing, following this exercise with the design industry.