23 AGENCIES GET REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS FROM PFIZER

15 Non-Roster Shops Being Considered for Top Drug Accounts

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Pharmaceutical company Pfizer said it has sent out requests for information and capabilities to 23 agencies for
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its Zyrtec, Zoloft and Bextra prescription drug brands.

Dorothy Wetzel, Pfizer's vice president of consumer health care, U.S. Pharmaceuticals, declined to name the shops but said she divided the agencies into two groups -- eight roster agencies, including those that handle Pfizer's pharmaceuticals, corporate and consumer divisions, and 15 non-roster shops.

Roster shops
Pfizer's roster shops include Omnicom Group agencies Cline Davis & Mann, Merkley Newman Harty, TBWA/Chiat/Day, and Lyons Lavey Nickel & Swift; Interpublic Group of Cos.' Gotham; and Grey Global Group's Grey Healthcare Group, among others.

"We cast a wide net," Ms. Wetzel said. "We invited large, integrated agencies and small, newer, advertising-only shops."

The Zyrtec, Zoloft and Bextra accounts became available after Pfizer parted with Interpublic's Deutsch, which handled all three. Pfizer and Deutsch had a disagreement over the drug company's requests for information during the renegotiation of compensation agreements, and the two parted ways.

Two brands, $120 million
The allergy drug Zyrtec and the antidepressant Zoloft together represent more than $120 million in ad spending through November 2002, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR. Bextra had less than $1 million in spending last year but has not been heavily marketed yet because it is considered the successor drug to Celebrex. Celebrex accounted for almost $2.4 billion in worldwide sales last year, and is the biggest-selling anti-arthritis drug on the market. Its patent does not expire until 2014.

Celebrex, an $80 million account, was put into review last week and is currently handled by WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson. Ms. Wetzel clarified the Celebrex situation by saying the account was not in a full-blown review, but that Pfizer was seeking new work from roster shops.

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