Friday, May 23, 2008

Professional Advertising Doing Well. DTC? Not So Much!

Last month I attended another black-tie awards ceremony in New York City -- the Manny Awards -- hosted by MedAdNews.

Three things about this ceremony struck me:
  1. The awards were focused solely on the work of agencies producing professional (ie, physician-focused) advertising for the drug industry, and
  2. I was a stranger in a strange land!
Oh yeah! #3: Many of these agencies were doing quite well and were hiring! MedAdNews published the financials of many of these agencies and I noted that a good number of them had substantially INCREASED their headcount AND their incomes in 2007 vs. 2006

Obviously, pharma spending on physician marketing is alive and well and probably growing.

Spending on direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising, on the other hand, is DECREASING.

The recent May issue of MedAdNews lays out the facts in its 14th Annual Report on DTC: $5.37 billion was spent on DTC in 2007 vs. $5.61 in 2006 (a 4.2% decrease; see Table below).
Media-DTC Advertising Expenditure 2007 vs. 2006 (Source: MedAdNews/Neilsen Monitor-Plus; includes promotion via Website -- not including search -- and non-branded advertising.)
AbelsonTaylor (AT), which won Mannies for the "Most Admired" as well as the "Most Feared" agency, increased its headcount from 325 in 2006 to 252 in 2007.

You may remember AT as the agency responsible for such DTC classics as Abe Lincoln meets beaver in those Rozerem ads (see "Rozerem Ads Dis Lincoln, Show Beaver"). But you may not know that AT really specializes in professional promotion and its Rozerem ad debacle (see "Rozerem Ad Spending Exceeds Sales!") was its first foray into DTC advertising. Better stick to your knitting AT. Who knows, maybe the new hires are meant to beef up its DTC division.

Cline Davis & Mann, LLC, which won the Manny for Agency of the Year, increased its headcount from650 in 2006 to 735 in 2007.

The list goes on.

Need to Learn More About Physician Marketing?
It appears that I need to learn more about the professional side of pharmaceutical marketing because that's where the smart pharma marketing money is going. And a good place for me -- and you -- to learn more about that side of the business is at this year's Pharma Marketing Networking Dinner Reception at the Princeton, NJ Marriott on Wednesday, June 4.


Approximately 50% of registered attendees have indicated that physician marketing/education is their primary focus and another 14% say it's their secondary focus.

At least 2 presenters -- Paul Boidy from ReachMD and Shaun McIver from StreamLogics -- will speak about alternative ways of reaching physicians. For more information, please see the agenda for this meeting. I hope to see you there!

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:26 PM

    Published on www.brainblogger.com

    Your Television as you doctor?

    Often, usually on television, one viewing will often at times see an advertisement for some type of medication- usually one involved in a large market disease state and the commercial is sponsored usually by a big pharmaceutical company for a particular network. This is called direct to consumer advertising, and doctors would prefer they did not exist.

    Since 1997, when the FDA relaxed regulations regarding this form of advertising, the popularity of the creation of such commercials has greatly increased. The pharmaceutical industry spends around 5 billion annually on this media source now. Normally, the creation of such a commercial becomes visible to the consumer within a year of the drug’s approval, which raises safety concerns. And involves money spent that could be applied to greater uses, according t many, but we are dealing with a corporation here.

    The purpose of DTC ads is not education, in my opinion, as others have claimed. Any advertising of any type shares the same objective, which is to increase sales and grow their market and, in this case, for a particular perceived medical condition or disease state. The intent of DTC advertising is to generate an emotional response from the viewer, such as fear or concern, believing upon research that the viewer will then question as to whether they need to seek treatment for what may be an unconfirmed medical condition. Furthermore, the FDA has admitted that they are ignorant as far as the content of such DTC ads, in relation to their accuracy and clarity, as well as their effect on the health care system.

    DTC advertising is also a catalyst for and similar to disease mongering.

    Disease mongering is the creation of what some believe to be medical flaws, and illustrated by the creators through exaggeration and embellishments through media sources as an avenue for suc propaganda, as is often seen with DTC advertising. Yet the flaws may not be medical, but corporate creations of these questionable human ailments that do not require treatment, possibly, and may be an attempt to develop a particular medical condition to acquire profit. One of my favorite DTCs is the new indication for the use of an anti-depressant for a social disorder. This used to be called introversion, a term created by Dr. Carl Yung. And it is a personality trait, not a medical disease. There are other questionable medical conditions claimed in the contents of DTC commercials, as the creators wish to grow the market for a particular, and possibly fictional, disease state. Then there is baldness treatments advertised, as another example. Lifestyle meds are not treatment meds for illnesses, and should not be portrayed as such.

    Also, DTC ads discuss only one treatment option normally, so it seems, when likely several treatment options exist for authentic medical disorders. This should be left to the discretion of the doctor, as they assess your health, not your television or another media source. That’s why most of the world does not conduct DTC advertising, with the exception of our country and New Zealand.

    Finally, DTC advertising and its ability to influence viewers to make their own assessment instead of a medical professional remains largely unregulated, yet apparently effective for the DTC creators. People are prone to believe what they see and hear, regardless of whether or not it is actually true. Many, after viewing a DTC ad, seek out a doctor visit and request whatever product that was advertised, which makes things cumbersome for the doctor chosen for such a visit. So the doctor and patient relationship is altered in a negative way, because most DTC ads require a prescription to be written in the manner of thier construction.

    Medical information and claims of suggested health ailments should come from those in the medical field instead of the corporate world. Perhaps this will save some over-prescribing, which will benefit everyone in the long term. And the Health Care System can regain control of their purpose, which is far from financial prosperity.

    “Do every act of your life as if it were your last.” ---- Marcus Aurelius

    Dan Abshear
    Author’s note: What has been written was based on information and belief

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