Pfizer Puts Viagra Advertising Creative in Review

Incumbent McCann Erickson Is Participating

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Pharma giant Pfizer has been quietly reviewing creative ad duties on its blockbuster erectile-dysfunction drug Viagra, handled by Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann Erickson since 2004.

Representatives for McCann referred calls to Pfizer, which confirmed the review to Ad Age, but declined to comment further. It's unclear how many shops were invited to submit ideas, but executives familiar with the situation say the review is moving rapidly, with McCann defending the account.

That Pfizer is out seeking fresh thinking on Viagra, arguably its most visible brand, is another blow to McCann, which has handled consumer advertising for Viagra for five years. It's a plum ad account in the drug giant's portfolio: Pfizer devoted $121 million to U.S. measured media for Viagra in 2008, and $57 million for the first half of 2009, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

Overall, Pfizer last year spent a whopping $1.29 billion marketing its various pharma brands, making it the 24th largest advertiser in the nation, according to Advertising Age's DataCenter. The company is the largest domestic prescription drug marketer, with a 7% share of the U.S. prescription drug market in 2008, according to data from IMS Health. That number jumps to about 10% when you count sales from Wyeth, which Pfizer agreed to buy in January for $68 billion.

A little over a year ago, talk whirled in marketing circles that Pfizer was embarking on an agency consolidation, but the company cast it as a major agency review that meant to make sure it has all the right partners in place.

The company last month agreed to pay $2.3 billion to settle the largest fraudulent-health-care-marketing case in the history of the Department of Justice.

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