Medical Advertising: First-in-Class or First Class?
First-in-class in a therapeutic category is the best position to be in. In a branded generic market, where there is no 180-day exclusivity you can’t even be the first generic formulation. Pure branded-generic markets (where 90 per cent or more of the market is covered by generic brands) fist-in-class remains as an aspiration only.
If you can’t be first-in-class what do you to? To be first class of course! How to be first class in medical advertising where claims, appeals, brand promises, and benefits sound very much similar for most of the products. By thinking first class, by acting first class and by behaving first class. Strong brands create very strong emotional bonds such as trust and loyalty, which are the heart and soul of good marketing. If you want your medical advertising to work and make an impression that will stand out in a clutter of competitors’ noise, let us take a few leaves from consumer advertising and first-in-class advertising and learn how they have been doing it.
Take a look at Pfizer’s Launch Ads for Celebrex (celecoxib), which promised: Powerful Relief Safely Delivered. A scientific breakthrough for the treatment of both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. This presents a rational approach to the physician highlighting the medical advantages such as efficacy and dosing. Doctors love the comparative data and relative superiority that a drug can offer. This is the first type of medical ads – Clinical Ads.
Consider how, Rezulin, the leading innovator brand of troglitazone class in its launch ad featured a large padlock with the headline – Unlock Insulin Resistance – that called for action and explained that it directly reduces insulin resistance through a unique nuclear mechanism. This is a classic illustration of the second type of medical ads – the Mode-of-Action ads, which focus on how a product works whether it is its distinctive chemistry, a new drug delivery method, or its ability to block a specific receptor, or the one with rapid action.
The ad for Namenda (memantine HCL) showed an older man being embraced by his son. The copy did the rest. Touched by Alzheimer’s Disease, suggesting both a disease that touches the lives and a drug that inhibits cognitive decline. The picture’s emphasis is on the son’s ability to reach out to his father and relate to him, rather than on the drug’s action. This falls under the third category of medical ads – the Emotional Ads that appeal to human emotions and create a deeper connection with the physician and the patient (through DTC Ads, Disease Awareness ads and patient education material) to create a lasting impact, conveying happiness and wellbeing.
Bayer’s launching ad for Cipro in 1988 promised power and freedom. The copy said: Power. Freedom. The Power of Parenterals, The Freedom of Oral Dosage. Cipro, A Revolutionary Oral Antimicrobial. This is one of the finely crafted ads falling under the category of Empowering Ads, which literally offer the power to save lives, promise hope, control outcomes, thus empowering the physician to fulfill his deepest motives of providing the best patient care.
When you are not the first-in-class, do not despair. Use the advertising appeal that suits your product, its position and situation. And be First Class!