Innovara Digest – Pharmaceutical DTC Ads : The Good, the Bad, and the Weird
It has been over 20 years since the US Food and Drug Administration began allowing pharmaceutical companies to advertise their products on television. In that time, the controversy surrounding direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising has created quite a stir. Even so, USA Today reports that spending for pharmaceutical DTC ads has grown 62% in the last 5 years. This week’s Innovara Digest highlights the good, the bad, and the weird pharmaceutical DTC ads.
The good: Humira—Body of Proof
To a backdrop of upbeat music, we are presented with a promise: “less joint pain.” Actors depict a variety of family activities: fishing, hanging a birdhouse, playing with sword-shaped balloons, and more. All of the actors tell us, “this is my body of proof that I can fight psoriatic arthritis.”
We aren’t sure how many colors the father and son are eventually going to paint the room, but we do know that the father will not have as much joint pain.
The bad: Mylan—Face Your Risk
In the video ad, a young woman at a party is entering anaphylaxis and breaking into hives as a result of her peanut allergy. After a series of actors recite lines in order, a narrator encourages the viewer to visit https://faceyourrisk.com to learn about life-saving treatment. This website forces you to scroll through hundreds of animations and lists of statistics before finally prompting you for your email address.
The disengaging: Humira—Long Distance
This ad features a variety of different activities, none of which have anything to do with psoriasis: swimming, playing the violin, preparing food in a restaurant, going to a show, and more. Unlike the Humira psoriatic arthritis commercial, this commercial does not give us a reason to care, nor do the actors in the video engage with the audience.
The Typical: Opdivo—Most Prescribed Immunotherapy
This advertisement for Opdivo’s treatment for non-small cell lung cancer consists of not much more than a glorified slide deck, projected onto large buildings while extras stand and point. A narrator recites facts about the drug in the background. The Opdivo team may have been better off telling a patient story, and then directing patients to a website for further information.
The polarizing: Xifaxan—IBS-D
If you’ve ever wanted to see a set of creepy 3D cartoon intestines play on the beach, go to a fine restaurant, or watch the Superbowl, you’re in luck. Viewers can’t seem to agree on whether Xifaxan’s mascot is confusing, gross, or charming, according to Entertainment Weekly.
The amazing: Philips—Breathless Choir
Both the video and the website are of the highest production quality, but that’s not what takes our breath away—it is how well Philips uses [emotive storytelling] to engage the audience. Philips paints a picture of 18 people with various respiratory conditions who learn to sing again.
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