Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Takeda Plots New Rozerem Campaign?

MM&M reports that "The whimsical consumer campaign for Takeda's insomnia drug Rozerem has generated lots of buzz, just not the kind of recognition that leads to new patient starts."

That the Rozerem "whimsical" DTC emperor has no clothes has been apparent to many observers for a long time (see, for example, "Rozerem Ad Spending Exceeds Sales!").

New Rozerem ads -- "Catch the Bus" and "Off to Work" -— are said to feature stronger brand mentions. "Brand linkage metrics, consumer awareness numbers have all steadily progressed over the life of the product," says Chris Benecchi, director of Rozerem marketing for Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America. "In the very beginning, you find yourself as being, in the mind of the consumer, 'You're the product...with Abe Lincoln and the beaver.' Now 'Rozerem' is coming through much more strongly," says Benecchi.

I am having a problem parsing all this marketing-speak. But it seems that Benecchi is relying on the wrong measure of DTC success according to Lee Weinblatt, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the PreTesting Company. I interviewed Lee in a recent Pharma Marketing Talk podcast.
"Recall by itself means very little to consumers," says Weinblatt. "They can recall many products, but if you do not make it emotionally important to them -- especially when you asking them to call up a doctor, make an appointment, pay a co-pay, and admit to having a problem -- you are really going down the wrong path."
The two new Rozerem ads do not seem to build any more of an emotional bond with consumers than the previous ads, unless you really like blue unicorns.

Ad spending for insomnia drugs lead the DTC ad spend pack: In 2006, Sepracor spent $316 million for Lunesta DTC advertising, Sanofi-Aventis spent about $180 million on Ambien and Ambien CR DTC, and Takeda spent about $110 million on Rozerem ads.

"We are promoting at a level that we feel is really the right spending point for us to go and have an effect," said Benecchi.
"One has to wonder whether the firm is growing impatient with the promotional effort, whose ROI in terms of revenue has been lackluster," reports MM&M. "Through June of this year, market share hovered at 3%, according to Verispan, compared to Lunesta's 18%, and the 66% share owned by Ambien CR and Ambien. Datamonitor predicts Lunesta, Rozerem's closest competitor, will cross the $1-billion sales threshold next year and increase its market share to 22%"
No matter what Takeda spends on Rozerem DTC advertising, it won't increase Rozerem's market share without making major changes to its DTC campaign. Ads featuring beavers on bus stops and blue unicorns in the office are merely "tweaks," not real changes. The buzz is wearing thin. It's time to do something entirely different.

As I said many times before, Takeda should "Fire These Guys" and disengage itself from agencies and marketing directors that measure DTC ROI in terms of "buzz" rather than new scrips written, IMHO.


  1. Here's the bigger problem with Takeda's marketing: Rozerem just doesn't work very well when patients take it. I've seen this in my own practice and I'm constantly hearing it from other psychiatrists.

  2. Thanks for your comments Dan.

    The fact that Rozerem doesn't work is just a marketing challenge. I mean, plenty of other drugs probably do not work well for some patients but maybe very well for others. Maybe the Rozerem marketers need to discover what the differentiator is -- or, better yet, invent it!

    Of course, I am being somewhat sarcastic here, but the Rozerem marketers better get off their duffs and stop talking about consumer recall and get serious!

  3. John:

    Benecchi has no idea what he is talking about. Spending over $100 million and not getting significant share is a major mistake and one that management should question him on. DTC people can ill afford to spend this type of money to create "buzz" that does not lead to new Rx's. He has to be held accountable to management to meet share goals. The days of spending big bucks for buzz that does not lead to sales are over. I have never heard such double talk in all my days and his incompetence is indicative of what is wrong with pharma DTC today.


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