Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Pfizer Tries Unbranded ED DTC Ads

Despite what its own executives are saying to the FDA--i.e., unbranded DTC ads are not as effective as branded ads to drive consumers to doctors' offices (see "Why unbranded ads don't work")--yet fulfilling its pledge to spend more of its media budget on disease-awareness ads, Pfizer is said to "break a TV ad this week talking about erectile dysfunction [ED]" WITHOUT mentioning the Viagra brand in the ad.

According to Brandweek (see "
Pfizer Breaks New ED Advertising"):
The new ad is unbranded and takes the form of an educational campaign encouraging men to call a Pfizer helpline to talk about their condition and to receive advice on how to approach their doctors about it. The theme is, "Make the call."

The approach is consistent with Pfizer's vow earlier this year to make its advertising more informative and educational. However, the company's Viagra brand, which is not mentioned in the advertising, clearly stands to gainĂ‚—when patients go to their doctors with specific ad-driven requests, the leading brand in the category tends to benefit most.
I have been calling for marketers of ED drugs (Pfizer, Lilly, GSK) to include more information about ED in their TV and print DTC ads (see, for example, "Pfizer DTC Pledge: ED is Litmus Test"). This hasn't escaped notice by the Wall Street Journal, which wrote about me recently:
"Among his pet peeves is erectile-dysfunction advertising, which he believes focuses too heavily on younger men and libido-enhancing promises while failing to educate consumers about the disease." (See WSJ Cites PM Blog as "Must Read".)
I'm not sure if the "pet peeve" comment is a put-down or not. Anyway, I am still on the case and look forward to seeing these ads. Until I do, I will reserve judgmentt on how "educational" they are. That will be the subject of a future post to this blog!

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