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Super Bowl 2016 Ads Cry for Total Ban of DTC Pharma Marketing

2016 Super Bowl ads by pharmaceutical companies are perfect examples why DTC should be banned.

Every year NFL championship game is a show off for creative advertisement. In 2016, however, pharmaceutical companies joined the show to leave viewers in disgust. Viewers of the Super Bowl have been exposed to truly engaging stories.

First, Astra Zeneca and Daiichi Sankyo  shared effort:

We cannot imagine how the first brief looked like, but the message of the ad is that if you take opioids and get constipation, Astra Zeneca offers prescription drug for it. The ad is supposed to be serious, socially conscious and artistic. It has been instantly ridiculed in social media.

The “poo” issue is seemingly important to Pharma industry as Valeant came with yet another ad on the topic, promoting Xifaxan, an antibiotic prescribed for irritable bowel syndrome. Now it seems we are fine regardless whether it is diarrhoea or constipation.

Valeant marketers could not stop themselves, and delivered another great piece. No poo involved just a fungal infection on the toenail. Hope you are not eating.

Hurray, it seems we (pharma) have just solved all the most important problems of our patients with those products.

At K-message we truly understand the commercial side of pharmaceutical industry. However, examples above show how badly we can end when marketers are allowed to advertise directly to consumers. Those ads are clearly directed to expand the market for products, that would otherwise not be prescribed.

In case of AstraZeneca there is some value behind the ad, as it raises important issue in the country addicted to opioid painkillers. Maybe we would be happier seeing a warning against opioid’s overdose (19 000 deaths last year), but fine, some patients really need strong painkillers and the should not suffer with constipation.

Valeant has no excuse. Those ads are just stupid, they include meaningless animations and slapstick gags to deliver message that will only make it harder for HCPs. I can now imagine how hard it will be to refuse antibiotic for the patient who just ate too much.  In the US problem with eating disorders is serious even without this appalling advertisement.

There was one more ad related to health, that was not aired due apparent ethical concerns. It promotes vegan lifestyle and the moral concern was that it shows people making love.

Well, if PETA’s call for veganism backed with love is immoral and those DTC ads are, something is really wrong with our ethics.

DISCLAIMER: All ads presented for purely informational purpose. We do not endorse any of the products mentioned (except of love). All trademarks belong to their owner.

About Piotr Wrzosiński

Piotr Wrzosinski is a sociologist focused on digital marketing in highly regulated industries. He combines experience from top players in tobacco, financial services, and pharma with a passion to the content marketing and technology. All opinions posted are his own unless stated otherwise.

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