Thursday, February 12, 2009

YAZ Commercial Yanked from TV, But Not from YouTube

Some time ago I pointed out that Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals pulled its 60-second "Goodbye to You" ad for birth-control pill Yaz after the FDA "expressed concerns" that the ad went too far in suggesting the drug could help overcome PMS and acne. I criticized the FDA for closing the barn door after the cow have left (see "FDA and YAZ: Is FDA Helping Marketers Work Around Regulations?").

My criticism, which was published way back in the beginning of October, 2008, may have helped goose the FDA to do something it rarely does: require Bayer to run new ads to correct previous Yaz marketing. The new $20 million advertising campaign points out the errors in previous ads and warns that nobody should take Yaz hoping that it will also cure pimples or premenstrual syndrome (see this NY Times story: "A Birth Control Pill That Promised Too Much").

According to the NY Times, "Under a settlement with the states, Bayer agreed last Friday to spend at least $20 million on the campaign and for the next six years to submit all Yaz ads for federal screening before they appear." $20 million over 6 years pales in comparison to a typical DTC campaign and is mere "chump change," said Bruce L. Lambert, a professor of pharmacy administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

While I have seen the new ad on TV, I haven't seen it on YouTube.

BTW, the original "Goodbye to You" is still available on YouTube (see below) where it has received nearly 15,000 views since it was uploaded on 21 May 2008 by "desireegrae," who apparently is one of the actresses in the commercial (ie, Desiree Hall, see photo here). Play the video at the end of this post and see if you can spot her in the ad.

OK, so here we have an ad currently running on YouTube that is in violation of FDA regulations. Shouldn't Bayer use its power to have Desiree "pull" this video from YouTube just as it was pulled from TV? I mean, it didn't take me long to discover the ad on Youtube (search for "YAZ Commercial") and who uploaded it (look at the stats and sites that link to the video and you will immediately see, which is obviously connected to "desireegrae.")

Is there any legal obligation for Bayer to do this? Did the FDA mention YouTube when it asked to have the ad pulled? Or is Desiree's reproduction of the ENTIRE ad considered "fair use" under copyright law? Inquiring minds want to know.

P.S. Desiree really got pissed when YouTube commenters were dissing the ads and suggesting that the song implied that women wanted to say "goodbye' to babies:
"PEOPLE," responded Desiree. "Pay attention to the commercial if you are going to critique it so harshly. The good bye to you song is good bye to cramps, fatigue, bloating, which is precisely why the balloons, that float upwards (which signify these horrible monthly problems leaving), say "CRAMPS", "FATIGUE" and "BLOATING", etc. It has nothing to do with good bye to babies. Birth control pills has other benefits than just preventing pregnancy. Educate yourselves."
From the comments I read, it appears that "overstating the drug’s benefits" had the desired effect on many viewers, including Desiree!


  1. John:

    Should the pharma and biotech companies be responsible for monitoring the videos that appear on You Tube if posted by a third party who has no affiliation with the company? It would take a lot of resources to monitor the web and I don't believe that a lot of people are going to click on Web ads from TV anyway.

  2. Rich,

    If a tree falls in the forest...they may not have resources to find these things, but the social network does! Now that I have reported on it, maybe they have less of a leg to stand on in any claim that "we didn't know." Like the cialis blog, this YouTube video may be violating the YAZ trademark and/or copyright, not to mention image. That's something Bayer should be tracking closely!

  3. Coming from a television backround as well as Pharma, I'm curious why no one has sent her a C&D letter. Most commerical production contracts do not allow for the talent to retransmit the finished spot with the exception of carve-outs for demo reels used with casting.

    I agree with John. This is a no brainer for Bayer.

  4. Hey !

    Could you help me to find the video as it has been removed by the user!

    I would like to add it to my blog

  5. Anonymous3:00 AM

    I think their creepiest commercial is the one where the woman is shopping in a dept store.. the stork tries to give her her bundle of joy but she knowingly shakes her head and goes on to consider a trip to Paris or a new house. Yes indeed- reject your children for material gain. I felt sorry for the poor child.


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