Levitra Backs Off Macho Stance in TV

NEW YORK Ads for the erectile dysfunction drug Levitra will swap ex-Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka for an attractive 40-ish woman in a new round of creative hitting TV this week.

New spots for the prescription drug, jointly marketed by Bayer and GlaxoSmithKline, will feature the woman, who describes how the drug has changed her man. The Quantum Group in Parsippany, N.J., handles advertising.

Six months into the U.S. launch, marketers of the drug are stepping away from the macho positioning exemplified by Ditka. While Levitra has a three-year sponsorship deal with the National Football League, Ditka, who currently appears in TV and print ads, said he does not want to continue as spokesman after this year. Meanwhile, Levitra is considering a springtime sports tie-in. Though competitor Eli Lilly’s Cialis is associated with the PGA Tour, Levitra is also considering options in golf.

Levitra and Cialis, the latter of which launched in the U.S. in January, have been battling each other for second-place sales behind Pfizer’s category leader, Viagra, which was first to market.

Ranking last among the lineup in Europe, where it and Cialis have been available for a longer time, Levitra has seen U.S. sales decline since Cialis jumped into the fray. Unlike Levitra and Viagra, Cialis—touted to have a longer effect—is known as “the 36-hour drug” and has been dubbed “le weekend” in France.