Chairman Bob (Bob Ehrlich over at DTC Perspectives), in stiff upper-lip fashion, predicts that the "best is yet to come" for DTC marketers. Au contraire, I say. Or, to be more precise, it will be the best of times and the worst of times for DTC marketers.
The Worst of Times
Because I am a glass half-empty guy, let's examine how this is the worst of times first.
Pharma companies, like many other advertisers, plan to cut back on TV advertising. See "Pull Back from DTC on TV?". I don't think this is good for the marketers who specialize in TV advertising.
Regardless of the medium, DTC may become so difficult to do -- from a regulatory and PR perspective -- that pharma will pull back on DTC spending generally and either use the savings to increase shareholder value, spent it on R&D, or use it for other kinds of promotion -- especially the kind that offers better return on investment (see, for example, "eDetailing ROI Better Than DTC?").
BMS, taking one small step for a pharmaceutical company, one giant leap for the pharmaceutical industry, has decided to cut out DTC for new drugs altogether -- at least for the first year after launch (see "New DTC Principles Emerging").
The Best of Times
Chairman Bob and others have argued that DTC marketers will have to learn new tricks to survive and prosper (see, for example, "DTC in 2005: Old Dogs, New Tricks?"). One thing they'll have to learn for sure is how to convey risk information that is readable and easy to understand (see "Future of Drug Print Ads").
There may be opportunities in new media such as e-marketing and other patient relationship channels. This is supposedly where DTC marketers will find the best of times in the next few years. I'm still not convinced (see, for example, "Pharma eMarketing at Tipping Point?").
I don't think old dogs can be taught new tricks. So it's going to be the worst of times ahead for them. On the other hand, the new dogs of DTC advertising -- e-marketers? -- may have a shot at the best of times.