|For the first six months of 2005, Pfizer spent $33 million on Lipitor advertising.
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The review began in June. The final contenders were WPP Group’s JWT; independent McGarryBowen and Kaplan Thaler, all in New York. Pfizer in September cut Omnicom Group’s Merkley & Partners, which had handled creative on Lipitor for five years.
McGarry Bowen declined to comment; JWT and Kaplan Thaler referred calls to Pfizer, which confirmed the assignment.
Pfizer has reduced direct-to-consumer spending on many of its brands, including Lipitor. For the first six months of 2005, Pfizer spent $33 million in measured media on the brand, according to TNS Media Intelligence. The previous year, Lipitor spending was $110 million.
Creative from each of the three finalists has been in test for several months, according to executives familiar with the process. Several months ago, without having selected an agency of record, Pfizer broke a disease awareness campaign for heart disease and high cholesterol from Omnicom’s Unit 7. Kaplan Thaler also handles Pfizer's anti-depressant drug Zoloft and its painkiller Celebrex.
Lipitor is the world’s top-selling drug, with more than $7 billion in sales in 2004 and a 42% share of the market, according to NDC Health, a health-care information firm. Anti-cholesterol medications are the biggest category in direct-to-consumer advertising, with sales of $19.82 billion in 2004.