DTC Pharma Marketing’s Glory Days Are Behind Us

July 29, 2008

The era of the “four-hour erection” warning in the middle of the Super Bowl is over.

It’s been predicted for a while (mainly by Richard Meyer at World of DTC Marketing), but the numbers are finally showing up to fulfill the prophecies: The money that drug companies are putting behind consumer marketing — particularly on TV — is about to go into decline.

Spending grew at 14% two years ago, but is likely to be flat this year, according to a report in Brandweek by yours truly.

To blame: the FDA and lack of pipeline refreshment. (And, to a lesser extent but nonetheless worrying, lack of new scrips brought on by patients without insurance who can no longer get them.)

Most likely to suffer will be TV spending. Money is still pouring into the internet and CRM compliance programs, but those are less visible than the big  campaigns we’ve seen since the late 1990s.

For consumers, the mental environment is going to change. The days when primetime was filled with drug ads are going to fade from memory, like so many Pepsi Challenge taste tests.

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4 Responses to “DTC Pharma Marketing’s Glory Days Are Behind Us”

  1. bob ehrlich Says:

    Jim good to see you back blogging. I agree television is going to decline but at a slow pace despite the pundits who have said it will soon be in steep decline. DTC target groups are still heavy televison viewers and although DTC spending is flat, television is losing only 1-2 share points a year. So eventually all those who say tv ads will go into oblivion may be right but in 20 years.

    There are still many new brands out there using DTC and the number of $50 plus million spending brands is the same as year ago. As long as ROI is good DTC will be around and on television.

  2. Bharat Says:

    Hey Jim,
    Really interesting write up. I think you are right about television declining, especially coz of “TIVO”. However, I think that pharma companies, might flatten their spending on advertising, but will surely find other ways to get to the consumers.

  3. Zane Safrit Says:

    Are you sure the FDA is to blame for anything Big Pharma effectively does, safely or not, that adds revenues?

    A lot of industries not regulated by the FDA are cutting back their TV ad budgets. Why? They’re not effective.

    They’re saving their ad dollars to ‘surprise’ us on other media.

  4. jimedwardsnrx Says:

    Zane,
    You’re right that the FDA isn’t solely to blame for declining TV ad budgets. But the FDA is to blame for declining approvals, and without new brands there can be no new TV ads…


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