Viagra in hunt for European agency

Pfizer-owned Viagra is talking to major agency networks about a pan-European advertising campaign to target consumers directly - a practice that is banned under an EU directive.

Pfizer-owned Viagra is talking to major agency networks about a

pan-European advertising campaign to target consumers directly - a

practice that is banned under an EU directive.



The brief asks agencies to overcome a number of hurdles, including

getting around the ban on direct to consumer (DTC) advertising for

prescription-only drugs.



It also wants agencies to address image problems to make Viagra a

serious subject for discussion, rather than the subject of smutty

jokes.



The pitch is being handled by the New York-based consultants, Advice &

Advisers. The company refused to comment on the pitchlist but it is

known that mainstream advertising agencies have been approached rather

than their specialist healthcare arms.



Viagra’s UK agency, Paling Walters Targis, which has mainly developed

work for the medical press, is thought to be unaffected by the

review.



Paling Walters has also produced some ’symptom’ advertising which has

run in the national press.



Symptom advertising describes a complaint rather than a brand, and

encourages people to seek advice from their general practitioner.



The ads featured the face of a man with copy stating that one in ten men

are affected by impotence. It encouraged men to seek medical advice but

did not make any reference to products or brands. The agency’s campaign

for the medical press could name the brand because it did not target

consumers directly.



Symptom advertising is becoming increasingly popular among drug

companies.



It is thought that this ’back-door’ approach will be the one taken by

pitching agencies.



Sources suggest that the UK market will eventually become more like the

US, where DTC advertising was allowed following a two-year trial. Such

campaigns generated dollars 1.3 billion in advertising revenue in their

first year alone.



US advertising for Viagra, by Cline, Davis & Mann, New York, generated

more than dollars 73 million in measured media in the first ten months

of 1999, according to Competitive Media Reporting.



A spokeswoman for Pfizer said: ’We are looking at new possibilities for

promotional activity across the world.’



Pfizer is currently buying the rival drug company, Warner-Lambert, in a

takeover deal worth dollars 92 billion.



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