Crestor inks $30 mil deal for PGA tour

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AstraZeneca becomes the latest pharmaceutical company to use sports as a marketing platform, as its new cholesterol-lowering drug Crestor signs on as corporate sponsor of the Professional Golf Association Tour.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but executives close to the situation pegged the five-year agreement at $25 million to $30 million.

The Crestor-PGA deal is separate from the $60 million in media spending the drug will receive when ads begin later in the first quarter of this year (AA, July 21). The Quantum Group, Parsippany, N.J., a unit of WPP Group's CommonHealth, handles the direct-to-consumer launch.

Gary Bruell, director of public affairs for AstraZeneca, declined to discuss Crestor's ads, and Quantum could not be reached. But executives with knowledge of the account said the main campaign will in part focus on Crestor's claim of superiority over Pfizer's Lipitor, the world's biggest-selling drug with $6.6 billion in sales through September 2003.

Crestor's point of differentiation over Lipitor is that it further decreases LDL, or "bad cholesterol," and increases the HDL, or "good cholesterol." The campaign to highlight Crestor's sponsorship with the PGA is expected to include several professional golfers and be themed along the lines of "Breaking Par," a reference to keeping both a golf score and your cholesterol count at or below average.

latest marriage

The deal marks the latest marriage of big pharma and big sports. Bayer and GlaxoSmithKline's erectile-dysfunction drug Levitra signed with the National Football League last August. Another ED drug, Eli Lilly's Cialis, already has a deal in place with the PGA Tour.

The PGA Tour also has sponsorship agreements with Cialis and with Pfizer's anti-arthritis drug Celebrex. "Do I think it's possible to have too many [pharmaceutical] sponsorships?" asked PGA Tour senior VP-chief marketing officer Tom Wade. "Yes. That's something we'll keep an eye on to protect our existing sponsors and make sure the brands are sharply differentiated."

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