5 Compete for Lipitor

NEW YORK Five agencies here are competing to handle creative duties on Pfizer’s Lipitor cholesterol drug: Publicis Groupe’s The Kaplan Thaler Group, WPP Group’s JWT, Omnicom Group’s Merkley + Partners, which is the incumbent, and independent mcgarrybowen, sources said. The identity of the fifth shop could not be determined.

Estimated billings are $60-80 million.

The shops were briefed last week and will meet with client executives on Wednesday and Thursday to ask questions about the assignment, said sources. Final presentations are slated for early August.

The agencies either declined comment or did not return calls.

Pfizer launched the review last month with an eye toward changing its strategic direction on the brand, according to sources [Adweek Online, June 22].

Past work illustrated how high cholesterol affects people of all shapes and sizes.

Merkley has handled the business since 2000.

Media duties, at Aegis Group’s Carat in New York, are not in play.

Omnicom’s BBDO was among the agencies initially contacted by Pfizer but did not pursue the business, said sources. The agency declined comment and referred questions to Pfizer, which declined comment.

This story updates and corrects an earlier item that listed BBDO as a contender instead of mcgarrybowen.