Lincoln, Digger, and the Rest of the Gang - Pharmaceutical Executive


Lincoln, Digger, and the Rest of the Gang
We asked seven industry experts to talk about today's best (and worst) pharma icons

Pharmaceutical Executive

Jeffrey Scott, president, Mohrman/Scott Associates: Product management has to stick with an icon. For example, the Prevacid tummy had been a key part of the advertising campaign for 10 years. Then, apparently, TAP Pharmaceutical changed agencies and all but abandoned the campaign. It's still in the advertising, but they reduced it to a postage stamp. In fact, we did a study about a year ago with a journal in which there had been a Prevacid ad that had a very burly-looking, tattooed man holding the tummy in his arms, as if he were comforting it. The ad scored 50 percent above the issue norm and twice what you would expect it to do for its size and type. Half the docs who saw it came away with an advocacy message. Later, we tested another Prevacid ad, after TAP had switched agencies, and the ad bombed. The tummy was working for them for years, and they walked away from it. I worked for an agency that had a Procter & Gamble account, and Procter had a dictum that applied to all product managers: The brand is sacred. The first thing product managers want to do when they join a brand is make their mark, do some changes in the advertising, because that's a very visible thing and is very tempting. P&G's standpoint on it was that you can't do that. They built that product and its advertising over years, and for someone to come in the course of his term and attempt to abandon that effort doesn't make sense.

Lisa Flaiz, VP, group director and national pharma practice lead, Avenue A|Razorfish: We've moved away from the talking white coat as a creative strategy. The Chantix tortoise-and-hare campaign is definitely one of my new favorites. It's so great because it delivers on insight that Pfizer has obviously learned from research. People who have tried to quit smoking before have learned that it doesn't usually happen the first time. It might be a stop-and-start process. It's a slow, steady thing. I like how the tortoise and the hare represent the slow-and-steady approach versus the cold-turkey approach. I think the creative treatment is fabulous and memorable. It's a story that everybody gets; it goes right to your childhood but not in a childish way. We're starting to see the Mirapex paintbrush swatches. It's not really a character, but it used art and a graphic to represent the patient and the disease state and to break through a little bit. Mirapex had to do something totally different from Rozerem because Rozerem went off the deep end. And I love the Celebrex word art. Again, the word art is not a cartoon character, there is no icon there. Also, using text graphics is not new, but Celebrex did it in a way that showed a slice of life. So I think this creative trend we're seeing away from the white coats is positive. We're finding new ways in pharma to do things creatively and to continue to deliver fair balance in a way that isn't a voiceover over shiny happy people.

Raz Crowe, vice president, creative services, Roska Healthcare: In general, pharma advertising is catching up with consumer, but it's still five, six years behind the curve. You're taking your brand and tying it to something less obnoxious than a bleeding sore or painful rectal itch. It's smart marketing. I love the Lamisil critter, Digger. That was really good. But I can never figure out why the Nasonex bee has this pseudo French/Spanish accent. I'm not in love with the female symbol coming off of the bathroom door and talking about Detrol, either. That one bothers me. And I hate the happy people on the beach in the Valtrex ads. If you had something like a critter that protects people from herpes, that would be better and more heroic.


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