Online Exclusive: Account Action

PFIZER PUTS LIPITOR AD ACCOUNT INTO REVIEW

Invites Agencies to Submit New Ideas

By Published on .

Most Popular
NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- A day after awarding its Aricept brand to Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann Erickson, New York, Pfizer is now reaching out to other agencies for ideas on its $112 million anti-cholesterol Lipitor account, the company said.

The Lipitor account is currently with Omnicom Group’s Merkley & Partners, New York.

Pfizer is inviting ad agencies to develop new ad concepts for Lipitor.
“Agencies with broad consumer experience and a reputation for innovation have been invited to develop new advertising approaches,” a Pfizer spokesman said.

Pfizer’s modus operandi
"Reaching out for ideas" has been Pfizer’s modus operandi in initiating a review. The drugmaker has done this in the past with brands such as Relpax, Viagra and, most recently, Aricept. All three direct-to-consumer prescription medications eventually changed agencies following reviews.

Anti-cholesterols are the biggest category in direct-to-consumer advertising, with sales of $19.82 billion in 2004, according to NDC Health, and Lipitor is the leading medication in the country. Lipitor had more than $7 billion in sales last year, a whopping 42.2% of the marketplace, while Merck’s Zocor had $5.5 billion in sales and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Pravachol had nearly $2 billion in 2004 sales.

Drug for Alzheimer's patients
Aricept, a $53 million account according to TNS Media Intelligence, is for patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease, a progressive brain disorder that gradually destroys a person’s memory and ability to learn, reason, make judgments, communicate and carry out daily activities.

Aricept is a co-promotion between Pfizer and Eisai Corp., Teaneck, N.J.

Omnicom Group's TBWA/Chiat/Day had the account since the introduction of Aricept in 1996, but Pfizer notified the agency earlier this year that it was seeking new ideas for the brand.

Another piece of Pfizer for McCann
For McCann Erickson, it was the agency's second big piece of Pfizer business in the last 12 months. Almost a year to the day in 2004, McCann won the $100 million account for erectile dysfunction drug Viagra. But Aricept represents a different challenge for any agency because of the nature of Alzheimer's and the simple fact that, for the most part, the marketing and promotion of the drug simply can't speak to the patient.

A big component of previous Aricept DTC campaigns have been aimed at families and caregivers of those afflicted with the disease.