Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Why Do DTC Ads - "Viva Viagra" included - Stink?


Lately, we've been witnessing a regression of sorts in the quality of DTC (Direct-to-Consumer) Rx drug ads. The recent "Viva Viagra" ad, for example, is a throwback to the days before Congress was serious about banning DTC or imposing more restrictions on DTC (see "Viva Viagra Ad is No Cure for Morte Sales").

The Viva Viagra campaign also reneges on Pfizer's pledge back in 2005 to focus more on disease awareness in its DTC advertising. At the time, I said that erectile dysfunction (ED) ads would be the litmus test for this change in policy (see "Pfizer DTC Pledge: ED is Litmus Test"). Well, it seems that Pfizer has failed the test.
Viva DTC Old-school Style!
It should be noted, however, that in the Pfizer press release about its pledge (which no longer can be found on Pfizer's site), the phrase "in 2006" was used to qualify the terms of the pledge. I guess now that we are well into 2007 and Congress has removed any mention of mandatory DTC moratoriums in the PDUFA legislation, there's no longer a need to look good in public. So party on, you DTC marketing animals!
"Unfortunately," says Richard Meyer of World of DTC Marketing, "Viva Viagra is another reason that real good DTC is on life support and maybe DOA."

Not only do these ads fail to live up to promises of educating the public about medical conditions, they also STINK! At least in terms of delivering return on marketing investment. Rozerem is definitely spending more on marketing than it is getting in return (see "Rozerem Ad Spending Exceeds Sales!"). The same fate may await Viagra -- it's difficult to imagine the ad enticing more men to talk about erectile dysfunction with their physicians, which is Pfizer's stated goal for the ad.
"I worked with the DTC team on the launch of Cialis and learned first hand the barriers that many face to seeking treatment for this condition that effects couples. These barriers cannot be overcome with a jingle of images of couples in bathtubs." -- Richard Meyer.
Why Do DTC Ads Stink?
Why do these ads stink at delivering ROI although they are highly memorable and score highly in typical focus groups?

Lee Weinblatt, CEO of The PreTesting Company, which tests the ads and commercials of over 300 of the world’s largest companies, thinks he knows why. The typical methodology for measuring DTC effectiveness, claims Weinblatt, "is leading pharmaceutical DTC advertisers down the wrong path."

What, then, is the right path?

Podcast Today at 1 PM!
Tune in today to a live podcast interview of Weinblatt in which he will answer that and the following questions:
  1. What major problems have you seen with DTC ads? Are drug ads too much like package goods ads?
  2. What about the agencies that drug companies use to create their ads? Are they up to the task? If not, why not?
  3. Why are recall and likability of ads meaningless?
  4. What should be the measure of ROI for DTC campaigns? Does increase in market share figure into that calculation?
  5. What does the Pharma marketing executive need to know about how ad performance? How does Pretesting deliver on that? How do Pretesting Company's techniques differ from other company's techniques?
  • Live Podcast Date: Wednesday, July 25, 2007, 1 PM Eastern US time
  • Duration: Approx. 35 minutes
  • Go to the Pharma Marketing Talk Channel Page to listen LIVE at the designated time or afterward to listen to the audio archive on the Web with your browser. After the live podcast you can also click on a button below to listen to the streaming audio archive on your computer or to download the show for playback on your iPod or other portal audio player.
Smell ya later! Ha, ha!

4 comments:

  1. Anonymous2:28 AM

    http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/08-11-2005/0004086664&EDATE=

    Here is the press release

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks! For the record here is the entire press release;

    Pfizer Announces Improvements to Consumer Advertising for Prescription Medicines

    ---

    Fundamental Changes Will Make Pfizer Ads More Effective at Communicating Risk
    and Benefit Information and Reinforcing the Doctor/Patient Relationship

    ---

    New Non-Product Ad Campaigns to Address Important Public Health Issues and
    Promote Patient Assistance Programs

    NEW YORK, Aug. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Pfizer Inc today announced changes to
    our direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising of prescription medicines to better
    meet patients' and physicians' needs for health information. The full set of
    changes will be in place in all Pfizer advertising directed to consumers
    before the end of 2005, with many of them taking effect immediately.
    Pfizer's ads will be consistent with the recently announced pharmaceutical
    industry's "Guiding Principles" on DTC advertising, which were adopted by the
    Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers Association (PhRMA) on August 2.
    The Pfizer changes are designed to help patients achieve better health by
    encouraging valuable patient/physician dialogue, improving consumer
    understanding of the risks and benefits of prescription medicines, and
    motivating people to overcome barriers to healthy behavior.
    "DTC advertising is demonstrably helpful to patients, but it should be
    refined to be even more helpful," said Pfizer Vice Chairman and President of
    Pfizer Human Health Karen Katen. "DTC ads have encouraged millions of patients
    to get earlier medical attention and to talk with their healthcare providers.
    The problem it addresses is real: too many Americans who need medical help
    postpone action, suffer unnecessarily, delay treatment until their health
    deteriorates, and end up suffering higher medical costs and more-acute
    interventions than necessary. Today, we're announcing changes to our DTC
    advertising to strengthen its educational benefits -- and to motivate patients
    to take earlier action and work with their healthcare providers to take
    more-informed control over their health."
    Studies show that consumers want and need health information to better
    engage in today's health care environment. But significant barriers still
    prevent tens of millions of Americans from taking action around their health,
    especially for serious medical conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood
    pressure, depression, asthma and diabetes. These barriers include lack of
    awareness, denial, misinformation, low health literacy (inability to
    understand medical information), perceived stigma and lack of insurance
    coverage for prescription medicines. A strong record of research shows that
    DTC advertising can be an effective vehicle for getting important health
    information to consumers and motivating them to consult their doctors.
    In fact, over 65 million patients have talked with their physicians after
    seeing a DTC advertisement and 29 million of these patients mentioned a
    condition for the first time, according to a 2004 Prevention magazine study.
    Moreover, DTC advertising has helped one in four patients who asked about a
    DTC advertised product during a doctor visit get a diagnosis for a previously
    unknown medical condition; approximately 43% of these new diagnoses were for
    high priority conditions such as asthma, high blood pressure or diabetes
    (Harvard University and Harris Interactive).

    Advertising Changes
    Since Pfizer started advertising to consumers on television in 1998, the
    company has regularly consulted with physicians and patients to better
    understand what is working and how DTC advertising can have a greater impact
    on healthy behavior. Based on this input, Pfizer makes its patient health
    information more understandable and easier to read in accordance with its
    Clear Health Communication Principles.
    Now, Pfizer is announcing changes to its advertising in three major areas,
    as well as announcing additional actions, all of which are consistent with the
    industry's "Guiding Principles" recently adopted by PhRMA.
    "Our advertising is meant to do two things. We want people to be aware of
    serious medical conditions and our medicines that treat those conditions, and
    we want to motivate them to talk to their doctors," said Pfizer U.S.
    Pharmaceuticals President Pat Kelly. "We believe it's our responsibility to
    communicate this information effectively so patients can work with their
    healthcare providers to make informed decisions about their health and get
    appropriately diagnosed and treated."

    Below are the improvements Pfizer is making to its consumer
    advertisements.

    1) To help encourage valuable patient/physician dialogue that can lead to
    early diagnosis and appropriate treatment, Pfizer will:

    * Educate physicians about new prescription medicines prior to beginning
    product TV and print advertising so that doctors can be well-informed
    about a new medicine before patients start conversations about it. The
    length of time used for physician education will be no less than six
    months and will vary depending on the relative importance of informing
    patients of the availability of a new medicine, the complexity of the
    risk-benefit profile of that new medicine and health care providers'
    knowledge of the condition being treated.

    * Include language in its product TV and print ads and on product Web
    sites informing patients that their doctors may recommend alternative
    treatments, such as diet and exercise, when appropriate.

    2) To help consumers better understand the risks and benefits of
    prescription medicines, Pfizer:

    * Will fundamentally change our approach to communicating risk and
    benefit information to improve educational value while continuing to
    motivate people to overcome barriers to healthy behavior.

    -- Pfizer has submitted to the FDA for review a new consumer-friendly
    and consumer-tested print brief summary, the part of the print ad
    that extensively lists the risks of a medicine. Should the FDA
    approve this new version, Pfizer will use this new format in all its
    print advertising and on all of its product Web sites.

    -- Pfizer will fund research to find ways to further improve risk
    communication in DTC TV advertising. We will conduct this research
    with input from the FDA and third parties and will adjust Pfizer's
    communications based on the results.

    * Will provide use, risk and benefit information in all product TV and
    print prescription medicine advertisements. This means Pfizer will no
    longer create "Go ask your doctor about a medicine" TV and print
    advertisements that do not include the benefits and risks associated
    with the advertised medicine. In cases where a product is mentioned as
    part of a sponsorship package, such as "This event is brought to you
    by Brand X," risk and benefit information will not be included because
    these communications are about support for the sponsored entity, not
    the Pfizer product.

    3) To motivate people to overcome potential barriers to better health,
    starting immediately, Pfizer will:

    * Include information about the industry's "Partnership for Prescription
    Assistance (PPA)" in a new dedicated "Pfizer Helpful Answers" TV and
    print ad campaign. PPA offers a single point of access to more than
    275 public and private patient assistance programs, including more
    than 150 programs offered by pharmaceutical companies.

    * Air a dedicated, nationwide TV and print advertising campaign
    promoting "Pfizer Helpful Answers" to raise awareness among Americans
    without prescription coverage about Pfizer's patient assistance
    programs that provide savings on Pfizer medicines or Pfizer medicines
    for free, depending on income.

    * Include "Pfizer Helpful Answers" contact information in all Pfizer
    product print ads and Web sites.

    * Educate doctors, other healthcare providers and their office staff on
    Pfizer patient assistance programs.

    In 2006, Pfizer will invest a meaningful amount -- on par with what it
    spends on a branded advertisement campaign -- to:

    * Create more disease awareness with advertisements that do not mention
    a product, such as the recent "Why Live With Depression" campaign that
    featured actress Lorraine Bracco.

    * Address other important public health issues such as health literacy,
    compliance or improving the patient/physician relationship through
    additional non-product advertising.

    * Continue our dedicated advertising campaign and efforts to promote
    "Pfizer Helpful Answers."

    In addition to the three areas of change, Pfizer also commits to:

    * Submit to the FDA for review all new DTC TV ad campaigns, and those
    that have major changes, for comment in advance of airing.

    * Review the placement of our current advertising to ensure that it will
    be targeted to avoid audiences that are not age appropriate. For
    erectile dysfunction ads, this means that all TV ads will be aired
    during programs that have more than 90 percent adult viewer-ship.

    * Clearly indicate in all product TV and print ads that the medicine is
    a prescription medicine.

    Pfizer Inc
    Pfizer Inc is committed to helping people improve their health by
    discovering and developing medicines, as well as informing consumers and
    health care providers about our medicines and the medical conditions they
    treat. Through multiple initiatives, Pfizer aims to ensure access to
    treatments and educate, empower and motivate consumers to take the necessary
    steps to lead longer, healthier, happier lives. For more information about
    Pfizer's patient assistance programs, visit
    http://www.pfizerhelpfulanswers.com.
    For information about PhRMA's "Guiding Principles" on direct-to-consumer
    advertising, visit http://www.phrma.org.


    SOURCE Pfizer Inc

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous2:32 PM

    ON the VIva Viagra TV ad..this ad was on the 6PM NBC news the other night (Friday I believe). I though these type of Rx were not to advertise until appropriate times such as after 9 or 10 PM? I was with my 4 year old daughter when I heard the words such as erection!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Pfizer has pledged to run these ads ONLY on shows that have a 90% or higher adult audience, regardless of the time of day or the fact that Nightly news shows many have millions of kids under the age of 18 watching!

    ReplyDelete