Pfizer acts to stem rising tide of ads using Viagra branding

Pfizer, manufacturer of the impotency medicine Viagra, is threatening to take legal action against companies which feature the drug in their advertising.

The company has noticed several incidences of “illegal use of the Viagra trademark”, says Andy Burrows, Pfizer professional and public relations group manager.

Victoria Kikatt, a Pfizer lawyer, confirmed to Marketing Week that the company would be sending a letter to EMAP Metro, following an ad for its FHM magazine, created by Bartle Bogle Hegarty. The ad, which ran in August to highlight the title’s circulation increase, featured a bottle of Viagra and the strapline “Getting bigger has never been our problem”.

Burrows says Pfizer’s 4,000 employees report when and where they have seen the product used in advertising to either him or the legal department.

He adds: “We write a strongly-worded warning and they get the picture. It seems in most cases the use is innocent. We have to protect the brand. It is a breakthrough prescription medicine.”

Several companies have contacted Pfizer wishing to use the Viagra name in advertising or in product development and have been turned down, according to Burrows. He claims one cookery writer wanted to include a “Viagra diet” in a book he was writing. “I advised against it,” says Burrows.

Pfizer has issued a writ against a London clinic for allegedly supplying a medicine called Viagra, which Pfizer says is not its genuine product.

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