Where Are the Pharma Superbowl Ads?

Football field

By Sven Larsen (@svenplarsen)

Watching the big game last night, I was struck by the diversity of products being advertised. Domain name registration and e-trading as well as the old reliables like packaged goods and automobiles. But one category was conspicuous by it’s absence. Where were the Pharma Superbowl ads?

It’s not like big Pharma companies don’t have the marketing budget for a Superbowl spot. And Pharma agencies certainly have the talent to pull off something as compelling as bungee jumping cars or Danica Patrick in a jumpsuit. So why no creative or splashy spot advertising a big name OTC or prescription product?

I can understand not wanting to spend the money on giving over half an uber expensive Superbowl spot to Fair Balance. But I also think it’s indicative of the way we sometimes approach Pharma marketing.

Pharma agencies have struggled for years with the perception that healthcare marketing is a “creative ghetto”, a place where fresh and original ideas are smothered by regulatory review and conservative clients. Of course, anyone who has been to the Mannys or spent any time in the industry knows this isn’t true. But, at times, I think we do suffer from an inferiority complex. A belief that spots like “1984” are for cool, hip brands like Apple and not for boring old Pharma.

It’s an attitude we need to shake off. Whether it’s digital media, social marketing or more traditional outlets like television and print, Pharma needs to stand toe to toe with any other type of product and service and we need to use all the weapons in the marketing arsenal. Because, at the end of the day, our message is just as (if not more) important than Coke or Toyota’s. What car you drive or what soda you drink may enhance your life. But what drug you take or what healthcare behavior you modify may save it.

And if the message is that important, isn’t it time we got as creative as possible when it comes to spreading it?




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