...don't even ignore 'em.
-- Samuel Goldwyn

Thursday, December 28, 2006


It's a classic marketing challenge. You've got a good product, but it's just like all the others. You weren't the first into the market, so you don't have brand name recognition. What do you do?

There are lots of prescription drugs for depression. It's one of the miracles of pharmacology. First, there was Prozac. But, of course, there couldn't be just one drug -- all the drug companies had to have one, to get a piece of the depression market. Wyeth wasn't the first on the market. And Lilly, the Prozac company, beat them to the "new-improved" space with Cymbalta, touted to be the first drug that replaces norepinephrine, as well as serotonin. So, now, what does Wyeth do to elbow into this mature market with their me-too Cymbalta-type drug, Effexor XR?

Well, they found a way. See, a particular drug doesn't always work for every patient. Doctors often have to try several with a patient before something clicks. So, Wyeth has just rolled out a TV-Internet campaign, suggesting that if you're taking an antidepressant and still have depression symptoms, it may be "Your time for a change." The TV spots mention no drug. The pitch is to talk to your doctor, and/or go see YourTimeForChange.com. The site doesn't mention a drug name either, just gives you information, offers you a checklist of symptoms, and talking points to use with your doctor. Subtle, no? Wyeth's name is on the TV spots and the site. Nothing illegal here. Oh, they do have another site, or at least a domain name, TheChangeYouDeserve.com, in a Google search ad, which takes you to the Effexor XR site.

You might call this the Ricochet School of Marketing -- finding work-arounds for a heavily regulated advertising marketplace. Wyeth is spending millions to, like, drop a few hints. As a public service? No, folks. Something tells me a depressed person already under a doctor's care would know to go back if she's not feeling better. Remembering that most meds take six or more weeks to kick in, right? And, of course, don't docs who prescribe powerful medicines know to tell you all these things? Ignore drug ads, folks. Things have gotten all out of balance. Focus on getting the most attention from your doctor.


H said...

WOW..Thank you for the info...very important to know the latest strategy

Anonymous said...

it's not exactly a new strategy, the goal is to peak your interest and then make YOU find out what it is. It's an age-old marketing technique...though in the pharmaceutical field, it does help you to avoid that nasty little rule that says for every second you tout the pros of a drug you must spend an equal second describing the cons/side effects. oh well...left me disappointed to find out it's for Effexor...never did my any good :)