Bolder is Better - Pharmaceutical Executive


Bolder is Better

Pharmaceutical Executive

Even more of a standout is the ad for AstraZeneca/Abraxis' Abraxane (paclitaxel) featuring a hairless young woman whose decision to go turban-less both helps to identify the side effects at issue (we know to expect alopecia with paclitaxel) and suggests a willingness to confront the conventional.

Similarly, the Enzon ad showing young patients taking Oncaspar (pegaspargase) in black-and-white (but wearing headgear) helps them stand apart from the more common full-color images.

Trend #3: Metaphors and borrowed interest campaigns

One of the fastest growing trends is to move away from pictures of people and toward the use of visual metaphors to convey key messages. Some of these metaphors, by virtue of their simplicity and clarity, stand out boldly, delivering an emotional appeal as well as a rational one. Novartis has consistently branded Gleevec (imatinib) as a "gift" by using a Tiffany-style box wrapped in orange paper and tied with a cloth ribbon. This signifies the gift of survival that a doctor gives a patient via the drug. Some Gleevec ads even weave graphs and data graphics into the gift box's ribbon—using it as survival curve, for example. A Camptosar (irinotecan) ad from Pfizer/Daiichi breaks with the convention of using Kaplan-Meier plots to show mixed overall survival and progression-free survival data, using the annular rings of a tree as a metaphor life lived longer (in metastatic colorectal cancer) and as a data graphic showing the results of the drug.

For many years, Sanofi-Aventis used the metaphor of a long pier extending into the water (overlaid with a Kaplan-Meier curve) to express the survival advantage provided by Taxotere (docetaxel). A Kaplan-Meier curve is similarly, and effectively, displayed on a man's palm in a Genentech ad for Tarceva (erlotinib) to suggest extended life. Roche's Xeloda (capecitabine) ad borrows from nature with a couple walking out of a desert landscape into a verdant, arcadian vista of farmlands and trees conveying the idea of a return to health and hope. Wyeth's Torisel (temsirolimus) shows two halves of a tree, one part denuded of leaves and the other green and richly alive (with roots that form the molecular structure of the product).

There's a fine line, of course, between metaphors and "borrowed interest," the age-old advertiser's device of catching readers' eyes with intriguing imagery related distantly, if at all, to the product. Finding a unique image that will stand out from the metaphors used by other campaigns is another challenge. BMS' Ixempra (ixabepilone) uses the familiar lock-and-key metaphor to address tumor resistance—Ixempra is the key, of course. Will oncologists remember this unlocking among the many keys they've seen in campaigns over the years? The question is particularly germane as Pfizer's Sutent (sunitinib) also uses a lock—albeit a combination lock—in its campaign. Additionally, incandescent light bulbs, another common approach, appear in campaigns for both Campath (alemtuzumab) and Zolinza (vorinostat).


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