PFIZER SOLICITS AD AGENCIES FOR NEW VIAGRA IDEAS

$89 Million Account in Discussion

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DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- Pfizer has asked its roster agencies to submit ideas for its male impotency drug, Viagra, perhaps the biggest brand name in prescription medication and direct-to-consumer advertising, executives close to the situation said. This is often the first step toward putting a major advertising account into review.

The $89 million account is currently

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handled by Omnicom Group's Cline Davis & Mann, New York.

Spokeswoman: Not a review
Pfizer spokeswoman Michal Fishman said the move was not a review for the business, but that "we are inviting other agencies to provide additional creative ideas." Ms. Fishman declined to confirm that only roster shops were invited.

Pfizer's roster shops include Omnicom's Merkley & Partners; WPP Group's Berlin Cameron Red Cell; Publicis Groupe's Kaplan Thaler Group; Havas' Arnold Worldwide; and Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson, which has the Viagra business outside North America.

"Our goal here with all of our advertising is to create effective advertising campaigns that are based on the greatest consumer insight that we can gain," Ms. Fishman said. "We are looking to expand the breadth of ideas we have available to ensure we make those campaigns as effective as possible."

Like Relpax?
In December, however, Pfizer also said it was seeking ideas for its migraine medication Relpax. Last month, it moved the entire $10 million account from Publicis' Publicis Worldwide, New York, to Arnold Worldwide, New York.

The success of Viagra's competitors could have been one factor in the decision to seek new ideas. Introduced in 1998, Viagra did not have a competitor for five years. In late 2003, erectile dysfunction drugs Levitra, from Bayer and GlaxoSmithKline, and Cialis, from Eli Lilly and Icos Corp., hit the market.

In November, Levitra's first branding spot, from WPP Group's Quantum Group, Parsippany, N.J., hit No. 1 on Intermedia Advertising Group's ad-tracking poll. According to IAG, it represented the first time that a pharmaceutical company's direct-to-consumer spot ranked in the top three. IAG's data measure general recall, brand recall, message understanding and likeability.

$1.74 billion category
Less than four months after its Aug. 19 approval date, Levitra had already taken a 14.4% share of the $1.74 billion male impotency drug market.

Earlier this month, Cialis experienced a nearly 2,000% increase in Web traffic on Cialis.com immediately after its 60-second commercial aired on the Super Bowl. Levitra also advertised on the Feb. 1 game, but Viagra sat on the sidelines.

Grey Global Group's Healthy Grey Village, New York, handles the $100 million Cialis business.

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