MCCANN ERICKSON WINS $100 MILLION VIAGRA AD ACCOUNT

Beats Out Merkley and Partners for Pfizer Work

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Pfizer has awarded its $100 million Viagra account to Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann Erickson, New York, the marketer said.

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McCann beat out Omnicom Group's Merkley and Partners, New York, for the work. Omnicom's Cline Davis and Mann, the only agency on the account since the erectile dysfunction drug hit the market six years ago, and WPP Group's Berlin Cameron/Red Cell, both New York, were eliminated from the review several weeks ago.

Consumer marketing
However, Omnicom's Cline Davis and Mann, New York, will retain the professional and Internet parts of the work while McCann takes over all other consumer-related marketing communications projects, according to the marketer.

Pfizer reached out to the four shops in February to solicit new ideas for the brand. The pharmaceutical maker declined to call it a review at the time.

McCann and Merkley emerged as the two finalists, and the competition was so tight that at one point executives close to the review said that both agencies ended in a dead heat after quantitative testing.

Most visible brand
Arguably Pfizer's most visible brand, Viagra had the ED category all to itself for five years until the fall 2003, when Levitra and Cialis were introduced. Both have made inroads in sales and prescriptions, although Viagra still holds a healthy 85% share of the marketplace.

Last month, Pfizer introduced an innovative campaign for Viagra in which users receive one prescription free for every six that are paid for. The first-of-its-kind prescription loyalty program used an existing TV ad created by a Toronto agency and reworked the voice-over to promote its Viagra Value Card.

By selecting McCann, Pfizer is pulling all its advertising for Viagra under the same agency. McCann also handles Viagra outside of North America.

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