Thursday, December 02, 2010

Are You Serious?TM A Good Example of Why Pharma Brand Managers "Love Its" TV

Many pharma marketing experts wonder why pharmaceutical marketers spend approximately 70% of their DTC advertising budgets on expensive TV advertising when they might get better bang for their bucks advertising through other channels such as the Internet.

Whether or not you agree with that, there's one indisputable factor about TV advertising to consider: the opportunity for brand managers to play at being directors, mingle with the stars, and even to have a "cameo" part in the production.

A good example of that is a disease awareness campaign called Are You Serious?TM, launched by Johnson & Johnson's wholly-owned Centocor Ortho Biotech division. This was described in a JNJBTW Blog guest post (here) by Craig Stoltz, Director, Product Communications, Immunology, Centocor Ortho Biotech Inc.
BTW, J&J IS serious about trademarking "Are You Serious?" Here's the result of a trademark search I performed (click on image to enlarge):

According to Stoltz, the "renowned Saturday Night Live actor and comedian, Jon Lovitz" called HIM -- not the other way around -- to pitch the public awareness campaign. Apparently, Lovitz suffered from severe plaque psoriasis for a decade until he found a dermatologist "who knew what the hell he was doing" (according to a song supposedly written by Lovitz as part of the TV campaign. Find it here; see screen shot below).

I guess it's feasible that Lovitz would pick up the phone himself to call a product manager (er, excuse me, I mean "Director, Product Communications").

According to Stoltz:
"The campaign is a collaborative educational effort between Centocor Ortho Biotech Inc., maker of two treatments for the management of moderate or severe psoriasis, and the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF), starring Lovitz. It aims to raise awareness about this autoimmune condition and motivate patients to speak with a dermatologist about how to effectively manage their symptoms. That’s what Lovitz did less than a year ago, and he couldn’t be more passionate about sharing his positive experience with others to let them know they absolutely can take control of their disease."
Stoltz also admitted that he made a cameo appearance in one of the "behind-the-scenes footage and blooper videos."

Unfortunately, I opted NOT to view the "behind-the-scenes" videos because it requires registration. Ever since I began covering the issue of online privacy related to healthcare marketing, I am a little afraid to give away personal information to a pharmaceutical company (see "FTC Issues Privacy Report Recommending 'Do Not Track' Option").


  1. John,
    You can view the "behind the scenes" on the jnjhealth channel. No registration necessary, though I do need your credit card! (just kidding)

  2. John:

    Thank you for the service you provide via this blog. I very much enjoy reading your perspective on the pharma industry.

    I'd like to address a few misconceptions you have regarding the "Are You Serious" campaign with Jon Lovitz. To begin, the campaign today consists of a PSA and a website -- no "expensive TV advertising" here. Secondly, Jon Lovitz is incredibly grateful to have found a treatment that works for him, after many years of suffering from very severe psoriasis. Lovitz told me himself how he came to be a part of this campaign: He picked up the phone and called Craig Stoltz.

    Whether brand managers are glimpsed in a blooper shot, or pharma employees get to meet a star is of no matter. The NPF is tremendously thankful that Jon Lovitz and other stars who are now starting to "come out" and discuss their struggle with this very serious and debilitating auto-immune disease. The NPF and the millions of people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis appreciate Jon's candor and his willingness to bust through the shame and embarrassment to bring psoriasis disease awareness into the mainstream.

    Catie Coman
    Director of Communications
    National Psoriasis Foundation

  3. Catie,

    Thanks for your comment. I guess we won't be seeing Jon on TV then?

  4. Anonymous10:17 AM

    John Mack wrote, "Whether or not you agree with that, there's one indisputable factor about TV advertising to consider: the opportunity for brand managers to play at being directors, mingle with the stars, and even to have a "cameo" part in the production."

    I'm sure Mr. Lovitz was also eager to have these experiences once again. Plus a paycheck.

  5. You will see Jon on TV in our public service announcement (PSA) and in interviews talking about psoriasis.

  6. So, this TV spot was donated by the network or did somebody have to pay for it? How "inexpensive" was it? Where did the money come from?


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