Pharmaceutical giant Roche Laboratories has launched a review of the Xenical account now at Lowe Consumer Healthcare here, sources said.
Both creative and media duties are in play, sources said. Billings were not disclosed, but last year, Roche spent nearly $80 million in measured media on Xenical, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
As evidence of the exploding healthcare category, that figure in 1998 was less than $1 million.
Despite a high-profile ad launch last fall, sales of the drug that fights obesity have fallen short of expectations, sources said.
One reason: a litany of potential and unpleasant side-effects, including oily discharge. "The consumers made their vote, as did the doctors," a source said.
Initial TV spots positioned the product as a "fat blocker" designed for people who are at least 30 pounds overweight.
One 60-second spot juxtaposed images of a pizza and a supermodel as a male voice said, "No, you can't eat whatever you want. And you may never look like a supermodel. But with Xenical and a reduced-calorie diet, you can lose weight." The tagline: "Block the fat."
More recent ads employ a cartoon character and mention a Web site and toll-free phone number. Roche is "probably going to do more direct" mail in the future, a source said.
Lowe, which has handled the business since 1996, referred questions to the Nutley, N.J. company, which did not return calls.