advertising and other stuff. no, really.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The only way to sell pharma.

And I’m not even sure it does that based on the views. But I saw this Danika Patrick banner ad and clicked. Yeah, shoot me. But, I just wanted to see NOW what brand wants to exploit her gender for NASCAR. Fully prepared to yell OKAY, ENOUGH ALREADY—WE GET IT. SHE’S A FUCKING NASCAR DRIVER, I didn’t hate what I saw here at Mostly because it has a lot of stars for a pharma brand talking openly about real health issues. Wherein I now explain drug ad laundering thusly:

With direct to consumer advertising rules for pharma in the United States being regulated like nothing else, resulting in ultra-precise wording as to what you can and can’t say in terms of your drug’s *possible* benefits, the workaround is that you often see unbranded sites like this talking about the cause or general disease slash affliction—not any one particular drug.

Here, it’s chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It’s not a completely generic approach though because you only have to check for the drugmaker behind the site in the footer copy, then trace their product lines at their actual site to see what drug they’re pushing. OMFG! Look what you find: Spiriva, Atrovent, Combivent, Berodual Bronchodual Duovent, and even a delivery device like Respimat, each with their own websites. But Michael won’t be holding up any inhaler today kids.

Given the FDA handcuffs in general, most pharmaseutra ads are an orgy of hackneyed metaphors. Here, the sputtering car theme is typical. Too bad, because the actual stories are compelling without that shit. (Michael Strahan is actually okay to listen to because he’s not screaming for a change.) That’s the problem with pharma though: Agencies get jammed by FDA regulations and end up hitting the consumer over the head with generic, repetitious copy that treats you like a 3-year old.

Here endeth the lesson.

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