The Week

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Pfizer/Pharmacia eyed by agencies

Agencies strong in direct-to-consumer drug advertising will be watching the competitive landscape closely in the next 12 months after Pfizer's announcement last week of its plans to purchase Pharmacia Corp. The deal would create a $60 billion company that owns such big-selling drugs as Celebrex, its successor Bextra, Lipitor and Viagra. In 2001, Pfizer spent approximately $362 million in DTC advertising, while Pharmacia spent $232 million, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR. Agencies benefiting from that marketing spend: WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson, New York (Celebrex, co-marketed by Pfizer and Pharmacia); Interpublic Group of Cos.' Deutsch, New York (Bextra, co-marketed by Pfizer and Pharmacia; Pfizer's Zyrtec and Zoloft), and Pace, Randolph, N.J. (Pharmacia's Xalatan); Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi Healthcare, New York (Pharmacia's Detrol); Omnicom Group's Merkley Newman Harty Partners, New York (Pfizer's Lipitor); and Cline Davis & Mann, New York (Pfizer's Viagra, Norvasc). QwikFIND aan79q

Malt-based drinks come under fire

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, instrumental in the state suits against tobacco makers, is warning liquor companies they could be next if they don't toughen voluntary industry codes. Directing his ire at beer-like products with hard liquor siblings (like Skyy Blue, Smirnoff Ice and Bacardi Silver), Mr. Blumenthal last week urged the Federal Trade Commission to act to ensure ads aren't aimed at teens. His comments came as the Center for Science in the Public Interest unveiled a survey saying teens viewing ads for the malt products see the ads as being for hard liquor. The Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. called the press conference a "publicity stunt rerun" while the Beer Institute said that "there is no credible evidence" to support claims that the ads lead to abuse or underage drinking. QwikFIND aan78s

AOL creates Hispanic unit

Aol time warner's America Online is creating an interactive marketing unit for the U.S. Hispanic market, to be headed by Peter Blacker, 31, who was previously responsible for Latin American interactive ad sales. In his new role as VP-international and U.S. Hispanic interactive marketing, Mr. Blacker will also coordinate international ad sales among AOL businesses in 12 countries. After realizing that 45% of Hispanics used AOL to access the Internet, the company last September combined various Spanish-language content from AOL Time Warner properties under the brand AOL Latino.

Meow Mix to start cat TV

The Meow Mix Co. plans to launch a cat-targeted TV show this fall dubbed Meow TV. Though still in negotiations with a network partner, the company says it is committed to airing the innovative show, which will feature voices chosen from a country-wide contest tour as well as feline-friendly visuals such as birds and mice. The program is being developed by Lime, a unit of Meow Mix agency Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, New York. QwikFIND aan78h

Miller Publishing sells sailing titles

Miller Publishing Group, which owns Spin, Vibe and Tennis, sold its Sailing Company unit, which publishes Sailing World and Cruising World to World Publications. The deal was announced July 14 after the deal was completed on July 11. Terms were undisclosed. Terry Snow, CEO of World Publications, said Sailing Company's annual revenues were around $10 million. Cruising World, published monthly, has a circulation just under 160,000; the ten-times-a-year Sailing World is just under 57,000. Through June, ad pages for Cruising World were 582.6, down 14.9%, according to Publishers Information Bureau. Mr. Snow said that the deal would boost the annual revenues of World's marine-related titles to around $30 million. QwikFIND aan78l

FYI . . .

A scheduled senate hearing on legislation that would implement strict new curbs on tobacco advertising and marketing and give the Food and Drug Administration authority over tobacco (AA, July 15) was postponed last week as the Senate took up prescription-drug legislation. ... Nestle has realigned assignments globally for Purina PetCare. Among the changes, Nestle named Publicis Groupe's Fallon Worlwide, Minneapolis (which previously handled only a small piece of the former Ralston-Purina business), to oversee global efforts for the Purina umbrella brand as well as individual brands Pro Plan, ONE, Dog Chow and Puppy Chow. ... Walt Disney Co.'s ABC is no longer mellow with yellow. The network's 4-year-old marketing effort, dubbed the "Yellow" campaign, will add greens, reds and other colors this September. The yellow campaign was created by Omnicom's TBWA/Chiat/Day, Playa Del Rey, Calif. Bcom3 Group's Leo Burnett, Chicago, now handles ABC. QwikFIND aan79l. ... Coca-Cola Co. breaks "What's your thirst?" advertising the last week of July as part of its longtime "Obey your thirst" campaign for Sprite. The three spots will come from WPP's Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York. QwikFIND aan78z. ... Philip Morris Cos. will invest $350 million to promote at retail its cigarette brands Marlboro, Parliament, Virginia Slims and Basic.

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