Untrademarked, Not Unbranded
In its recent guidance, FDA announced that pharma's help-seeking ads fall outside its purview. That statement has reinvigorated
the discussion about unbranded advertising, but may not change companies' strategies.
Quotables: On Working Together
"Interest in unbranded advertising is diminishing," says Mitch Roberts, senior vice-president, group managing director, consumer
operations for Cline Davis & Mann. "It's very difficult for clients to understand pouring money into unbranded efforts."
Indeed, DTC marketers often say that awareness is only valuable if it drives consumers to physicians to ask for brands by
"There's too much data that show that eight or nine out of 10 patients will get the drug they ask for," says Stuart Klein,
president of the Quantum Group. "One of our key challenges is getting that often incomprehensible brand name on consumers'
lips because, for the most part, in these parity categories, doctors will write whatever patients ask for."
Top Priorities. Anthony Manson (right) notes that pharmaceutical companies will direct more money toward persistence and compliance
efforts. Stuart Klein (below) discusses the importance of brand awareness.
Therefore, marketers will continue to use unbranded advertising only when "you have something new to say from an educational
standpoint, when it's the only product on the market, or the rare occasion that you do get a unique point of difference—those
are the times when help-seeking is effective," says Ellen Fields, group account director at DDB.
Richard Czerniawski, managing partner of the Brand Development Network and keynote speaker at the roundtable, challenged that
assumption: "If a company wants to have an ongoing dialog with patients, untrademarked advertising—which is anything but unbranded—can
be very effective," says Czerniawski. "If people perceive that Viagra is weaker than Levitra and Cialis, I might want to go
unbranded to get that dialog going."
One common advertising tactic to improve the ROI on help-seeking advertising is to link it with a branded reminder spot. "The
only way we can make it work for Zocor, which is strong but still distant to Lipitor, is to link them to branded efforts,"
says Guarini. "Otherwise, we are driving 65 percent of new patient starts to Lipitor."
Quotables: On Corporate Branding
FDA did warn industry in its guidance against pushing the envelope on pairing disease awareness advertising and reminder ads
too closely. "The FDA guidelines will open up new ways in how we use unbranded and branded communications," says Todd LaRoche,
executive vice-president/managing director of creative at Palio Communications. "That's where you're going to see some changes."
One area under investigation is how corporate branding can be used in help-seeking advertising. "When Bob Dole did unbranded
advertising for Viagra, you saw a little blue oval at the bottom," says Andrew Schirmer, executive vice-president and managing
director for McCann HumanCare. "That was nice synergy, but it was happenstance. The reality is that the two brands can help
each other, but that isn't viewed as an objective at the corporate level."
But change is slow, especially when it comes to trying new things. "DDMAC has always been interested in learning, and they
are willing to experiment as long as it fits within the regulations," says Louis Morris, former acting director and branch
chief of DDMAC, now president of Louis A. Morris & Associates. "But industry is fearful to approach FDA. When push comes to
shove—and plenty of people are pushing, including ad agencies—companies don't want to engage in that kind of risk taking."
Speaking From Experience. Amy Niemann (left) discusses how agency–client integration can work. Richard Czerniawski (center)
challenges assumption of help-seeking advertising. Jim Sandino (right) provides war stories from several DTC campaigns.
Yet Eli Lilly's Anne Myers, Strattera consumer marketing manager, says that is not acceptable. "We're all after the same goal—good
patient care. If we can think of it that way, as having the same objective, we can get somewhere. If we continue to be afraid,
we'll get nowhere."
Know Thy Audience
The roundtable discussion proved that some of the most important DTC lessons have been learned from the consumer packaged
"DTC is getting a lot more people from other types of agencies into this category," says Millicent Badillo, senior vice-president,
brand director for Cialis, Grey Worldwide. "They're saying, 'I don't know about molecules. But what's the insight here? Why
do patients need the drug? Why is it different?'"
Indeed, consumer insight may be the key to making a brand resonate. "For the Lipitor work, we learned to understand how the
target audience truly viewed themselves," says Devereux. "We spent time talking to baby boomers, and we also delved into the
MacArthur Foundation Study that showed that baby boomers see themselves 10–15 years younger than they are.
"When the reality of disease collides with our perception of ourselves, that's when we start tuning out the messages. So featuring
people who were cast to look young, healthy, and vibrant is much more aligned with how the audience sees themselves, even
though it's not who they truly might be."
Quotables: On Fair Balance
Taking those campaigns to the next level means translating the insight into tactics. "Great tactics also come from really
knowing who your consumers are, what they think, what they enjoy, where they work, where they play," says Strauss. "Then talking
to them in their language, maybe through a spokesperson who is credible and who is a mentor. It also means reaching people
in a venue and talking to them about a product or condition in a way that they haven't heard before."
But for many consumer marketing veterans, that is easier said than done. "It's hard to do work in this category that is successful
and that is respected by the larger advertising community," says Schirmer. "And it is ridiculously hard to do both together.
But the people sitting around this table have stuck with it—pushing on behalf of the client to make sure that it's successful;
pushing for the patient, ensuring that it's clear; and pushing as craftsmen, making sure it's something we're proud of."