Agencies Pitch Publicis’ Relpax

As Pfizer prepares to launch a campaign next year for its new migraine drug, Relpax, it is looking beyond the brand’s agency, Publicis Groupe’s Publicis in New York, for creative ideas.

Sources said Pfizer last month invited agencies to offer ideas. Shops including Havas’ Arnold and WPP Group’s Berlin Cameron/Red Cell, both in New York, are expected to present strategic and creative concepts to the New York client in mid-November, sources said.

Berlin Cameron joined Pfizer’s roster in August, winning the Zyrtec allergy medicine after a review.

Relpax moved to Publicis when sister agency D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles was dissolved in January. One source said Pfizer was dissatisfied with Publicis’ ideas; another source said concept meetings have been held but that Publicis also presents its first ideas this month.

Client rep Michal Fishman confirmed Pfizer is seeking Relpax ideas but declined to say which shops besides Publicis are involved. “We are very happy with Publicis as a partner on this account,” she said. “The competitive marketplace has led us to assign project work to broaden the creative ideas available to us.”

Executives at the agencies were unavailable for comment.

D’Arcy won Relpax in 1999 after a review. The media spend at the time was pegged at $40 million, sources said. But Relpax did not receive Food and Drug Administration approval until December 2002.

Sales of its main competitor, Imitrex, were $1.5 billion in 2002; GlaxoSmithKline spent $75 million on the drug last year, per Nielsen-Monitor Plus. Grey Worldwide’s Healthy Grey unit handles Imitrex.