PFIZER CONSOLIDATES DTC PRINT BUYING AT PARAGON: SHIFT INCLUDES ALLERGY DRUG ZYRTEC

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Pfizer is consolidating its direct-to-consumer print media buying for prescription drugs, moving its estimated $30 million Zyrtec allergy drug and future DTC-supported brands to roster agency Paragon Media.

The New York shop picks up that part of the Zyrtec media business from Campbell Mithun Esty, Minneapolis, which will retain TV buying for the brand. Zyrtec got its first TV support a few months ago, with creative from Lyons Lavey Nickel Swift, New York, a unit of Omnicom Group.

The commercials picture a businessman climbing a rock wall that, seen from above, spells out the brand name.

Due to Food & Drug Administration prescription-drug TV ad restrictions, the commercial cannot specify it is an allergy drug.

`REWARD FOR JOB WELL DONE'

"Despite the trend recently, where a lot of agencies are getting fired after many years, I'd like to think of this as a reward for a job well done," said Michael Gross, Paragon president.

Paragon already handles buying for Pfizer's two other prescription brands supported by DTC ads-the $14 million Cardura prostate drug account and the $15.5 million business for Diflucan antifungal.

The Pfizer business at Paragon now totals $59 million in billings.

Pfizer recently pulled back its print campaign for Cardura, created by Cline, Davis & Mann, New York, also an Omnicom agency (AA, March 24), due to disappointing results from a follow-up study of the campaign.

REFOCUSING CARDURA ADS

The marketer said it was "still confident DTC is the way to go, but we will refocus" the campaign.

As yet, no new work has appeared.

The Zyrtec move comes at a time of heated competition in the allergy category, where that prescription brand holds the No. 2 spot-with sales of $170.7 million-but well behind leading brand Claritin from Schering-Plough Corp., with $763.4 million in the $1.39 billion prescription antihistamine market.

Hoechst Marion Roussel's Allegra, introduced last October with an estimated $30 million multimedia DTC campaign, has reached $170.6 million in sales.

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