Includes Zyrtec, Zoloft and Bextra Accounts

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NEW YORK ( -- Three agencies have been awarded a total of $126 million in advertising work for three Pfizer drugs, according to the company.
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The pharmaceutical giant said the direct-to-consumer advertising accounts for Zyrtec, Zoloft and Bextra have gone to WPP Group's Berlin Cameron/Red Cell, Publicis Groupe's Kaplan Thaler Group and Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson Worldwide, respectively.

Spending increase for Bextra
The Zyrtec work was valued at $74 million, the Zoloft account at $51 million. Bextra's ad spending was less than $1 million last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR, but that is expected to increase this year, the company said. Bextra is the successor drug to the anti-arthritis medication Celebrex.

"It was a really tough decision because we saw a lot of great creative," said Dorothy Wetzel, Pfizer's vice president of consumer health care.

Seven finalists were vying for the three accounts. In addition to the three winners, Omnicom Group's TBWA/Chiat/Day pitched Zyrtec and sibling MNH Healthworks pitched Zyrtec and Zoloft; Publicis' Publicis Worldwide pitched Zoloft and Bextra; and Havas' Arnold Worldwide was a finalist for Zoloft and Bextra.

Carefully watched review
The reviews were carefully watched following the falling out between Pfizer and Interpublic's Deutsch, which handled all three accounts. The marketer and the agency parted ways in February over a disagreement in the renegotiations of compensation agreements. Industry observers greatly anticipated whether Pfizer's decisions on these accounts would signal a consolidation of agencies, particularly in the wake of its $60 billion acquisition of Pharmacia Corp. earlier this year.

By tapping Berlin Cameron/Red Cell and Kaplan Thaler, Pfizer added two new roster shops.

"We basically try to do what's best for our business, and that is to match up the best ideas with our products," Ms. Wetzel said. "That's the driving force as opposed to any agency lineup."

Celebrex review
Ms. Wetzel declined to comment on the Celebrex account, other than to confirm it will be in competition between Kaplan Thaler and Arnold. Celebrex is the market leader in anti-arthritis medication, with 2002 sales of $3.05 billion, topping competitor Vioxx, from Merck, which had $2.5 billion in sales last year.

Zyrtec had $1.2 billion in sales last year, trailing market leader Allegra, from Aventis. McCann-Erickson handles the $130 million in ad spending on Allegra.

Zoloft had $2.74 billion in sales last year, trailing GlaxoSmithKline's Paxil, one of the world's top 10 drugs with $3.22 billion in sales in 2002 to make it the leader in the anti-depressant category. McCann-Erickson also handles the $126 million Paxil account.

Sales figures are from Pharmaceutical Executive magazine, while ad spending numbers are from TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.