Pfizer's Viagra Shifts Creative to BBDO from McGarryBowen

Shift Comes as Part of Agency Consolidation Started in Fall 2012

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Pfizer is moving lead creative duties for one of its most important brands, Viagra, to BBDO, New York, from McGarryBowen, New York.

As Ad Age reported last fall, the global pharma giant has been consolidating its ad agency relationships with three major holding companies: WPP, Omnicom and Publicis Groupe. The company's procurement department has been heavily involved in the process.

Dentsu-owned McGarryBowen and other partners outside that trio of firms have spent the past nine months preparing for the fact they'd be sidelined by Pfizer.

When McGarryBowen won the Viagra creative business in October 2009 after a pitch, the agency was on a tear, known as the fiercest shop on the new business circuit. At the time, the account moved to McGarryBowen after a five-year relationship with Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann Erickson.

Spending on the brand has been going down. In 2012, Pfizer devoted a total of about $110 million on measured media according Kantar, down about $20 million from 2011.

According to one person familiar with the matter, for months, executives at Pfizer had indicated that Viagra would likely land at an Omnicom agency. Omnicom sibling agency Rapp has had an existing relationship with Viagra, handling digital marketing duties for the erectile dysfunction drug.

Pfizer representatives didn't immediately return a request for comment on the agency change, and BBDO declined to comment. McGarryBowen said in a statement: "We're very proud of the work we did for Viagra over the past few years and we wish them all the best."

For BBDO, nabbing Viagra -- along with the addition of ad duties for Bud Light and Emirates' Airlines North American business, which it picked up in June -- helps to offset the loss of one of its biggest U.S. accounts, Procter & Gamble's Gillette. That moved to WPP's Grey earlier this year following a seven-month review.

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