3 Shops Await Word on Novartis’ Elidel

NEW YORK Three agencies are awaiting a decision in the review for creative duties on Novartis’ Elidel account, sources said.

The East Hanover, N.J., client in September heard pitches from the incumbent, WPP Group’s Quantum Group in Parsippany, N.J.; and Omnicom Group’s Merkley Newman Harty & Partners and Interpublic Group’s Deutsch, both New York, sources said. A decision is expected in two weeks.

Quantum launched the first ad campaign for the prescription skin cream to treat eczema in March. The client has spent $50 million on U.S. ads through August of this year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Media duties are not in play. WPP’s Mindshare handles all Novartis media.

Deutsch and Merkley are both Novartis roster shops. Deutsch handles Lamisil and Zelnorm, while Merkley’s Healthworks unit landed duties on Enablex, an incontinence medication in July. Merkley is also charged with launching a new arthritis drug for Novartis in 2004.

Executives at the agencies either declined comment or referred calls to the client, where a representative
could not immediately be reached.

Eczema is a non-contagious skin condition that “flares up” in people with a family history of certain allergies or asthma and can be triggered by weather changes or stress. Its symptoms include patches of scaly, red, swollen dry skin.