Replaced by BBDO Worldwide

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NEW YORK ( -- In a curious and stunning move, Schering-Plough and GlaxoSmithKline -- co-marketers of the erectile dysfunction drug Levitra -- have removed Publicis Groupe’s Saatchi & Saatchi Consumer Healthcare after only six months on the $140 million account and replaced the agency with Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, executives involved in the move said.
Among other things, the FDA said the Levitra ads is misleading in its unsubstantiated superiority claims.
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Schering-Plough's Herb Ehrenthal, vice president of advertising and marketing communications, did not immediately return a phone call or an e-mail. A Schering-Plough spokesman would only say that the company will continue to work with Saatchi and BBDO.

Agencies decline comment
BBDO and Saatchi declined to comment.

Saatchi won the Levitra account from WPP Group's Quantum Group in November 2004, following a review that was initiated by Schering-Plough after the pharmaceutical company assumed U.S. marketing duties on the drug from Bayer.

However, Saatchi & Saatchi Consumer Healthcare has not produced any TV advertising since winning the business. As of two weeks ago, Schering-Plough and GlaxoSmithKline were still using ads that Quantum created that feature a sultry, 40ish woman talking about the effects the product has had on "my man” and saying, “Just look at that smile.”

FDA warnings
Both Levitra and Viagra have received warning letters from the Food and Drug Administration in the last six months for misleading promotional material.

After an initial surge in sales when Levitra first hit the market in August 2003 -- the first competitor to Pfizer’s Viagra, which had exclusivity in the erectile dysfunction category for almost six years -- it has slumped to third behind Eli Lilly’s Cialis. Viagra still has 67% market share according to IMS Health, Fairfield, Conn., with Cialis at 22% and Levitra at 11%.

Ad spending
The ED category was the pharmaceutical industry’s second-biggest in direct-to-consumer ad spending in 2004, according to TNS Media Intelligence, with $383 million, second only to the $472 million spent on cholesterol-fighting drugs. Lilly spent $156.6 million on Cialis; Schering-Plough and GlaxoSmithKline spent $143.6 million on Levitra; and Pfizer spent $83.2 million on Viagra.

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Lisa Sanders contributed to this report.

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