Pfizer Names 3

NEW YORK Pfizer on Wednesday selected McCann-Erickson, The Kaplan Thaler Group and Berlin Cameron/Red Cell to handle creative on its Bextra, Zoloft and Zyrtec brands, respectively, the client confirmed. Billings for each are $50-75 million, sources said.

Separately, Arnold and Kaplan Thaler are finalists for Pfizer’s Celebrex business. Pfizer spent $80 million to advertise Celebrex last year, per TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

To claim Bextra, Interpublic Group’s McCann beat Havas’ Arnold, WPP Group’s Berlin Cameron, Publicis Groupe’s Publicis and Omnicom Group’s TBWA\Chiat\Day.

For Zoloft, Publicis Groupe’s Kaplan Thaler overcame Arnold, Publicis and Omnicom’s Merkley Newman Harty & Partners.

For Zyrtec, Berlin defeated Kaplan Thaler, Merkley and TBWA\C\D.

All contenders pitched out of their New York offices.

“We saw a lot of great creative across all the agencies. In general, it was a tough decision to make,” said Dorothy Wetzel, vice president of the consumer market group for Pfizer’s pharmaceutical division. In terms of the creative, “what you’re going to see is innovative approaches (that) break down attitudinal barriers that prevent people from seeking treatment,” she said, declining to elaborate.

IPG’s Deutsch in New York had handled creative on Bextra, Zoloft and Zyrtec and parted with the client in February. As for compensation, the issue that caused Pfizer and Deutsch to split up, Wetzel said, “We’re going to be following all the 4A’s and ANA guidelines on agency compensation as we always have. It’s a non-issue,” in terms of the newly hired agencies.

WPP’s J. Walter Thompson in New York has worked on Celebrex. A decision on Celebrex will be made, “as fast as we can,” Wetzel said and pitches begin “very soon.” She declined further comment on the process.

The Bextra, Zoloft and Zyrtec selections came several weeks after the last handful of final presentations. Each agency presented to a client panel that included corporate executives and brand managers as well as managers of other Pfizer brands and representatives from New York consultancy Beekman Associates, said sources.

Beekman helped Pfizer renegotiate contracts with its roster shops earlier this year. It was in the midst of those renegotiations that IPG’s Deutsch resigned ad duties on Bextra, Zoloft and Zyrtec [Adweek, Feb. 17]. Deutsch balked at signing an agreement that would have required the New York shop to provide, if requested, data such as the individual salaries of staffers working on the brands, sources said at the time. Pfizer, however, denied that it had directly asked for such information.

Final pitches took place last month at a midtown New York hotel. Because eight agencies were competing for three brands, the presentations spanned three weeks. Media duties are handled by Aegis Group’s Carat in New York.