A ranking of 2015's DTC Ads

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To hear SSCG Media Group president Debbie Renner address it, great DTC pharma advertising during the last year or so has been “sparse.” That's not to say, however, that any number of spots failed to land with the desired impact. Here, she shares her picks for the Top 10 DTC ads of the year.


1. Belsomra/Merck 

This ad nails the difference between sleeping and not sleeping through personified words. It connects with people who have insomnia by articulating how it feels to enjoy sleep and not enjoy being awake. I particularly like the scene when the hero puts “wake” to bed.




2. Tecfidera/Biogen 

This spot, a first for the MS category, attempts to change the way people think about MS treatments by giving the pill a starring role. The ad invites people to “imagine another perspective” on MS while showing the journey of a woman participating in activities that take place across different seasons with excellent use of live action and CGI.




3. Pradaxa/Boehringer Ingelheim 

This ad helps consumers understand a misunderstood medical condition by using a metaphor of fish to represent blood cells. The idea is simple and memorable. And while stroke is scary, you get the feeling that with Pradaxa, the condition can be prevented in a less worrisome way.



4. Otezla/Celgene 

It's a pill that treats plaque psoriasis, and the target audience is captured quickly when members of it are challenged to show off more of themselves. Let your playful show, your mellow show – that's what people with psoriasis would love. I thought the casting seemed rather strange, but the idea at its core is smart and taps into a consumer truth.



5. Xifaxan/Salix 

What better way to create a Super Bowl ad than to depict an animated intestine attending the big game and even spotting itself on the Jumbotron? The spot has generated a lot of buzz, but whether you love it or hate it, you can't argue that it created a lot of talk around IBS-D. Plus the little gut guy is unquestionably memorable … and kind of adorable.


6. Prevnar 13/Pfizer 

Prevnar sucked me in with the single piece of fruit. Even the man doing a push-up got my attention. While you see the concept evolve over the course of the spot, it's not that obvious at first and, frankly, it's a little hard to follow. That said, the message is clear, thought-provoking and insightful.



7. Anoro/GlaxoSmithKline 

The Anoro DTC spot does a nice job of including the ultimate brand benefit at the core of the idea: More air. The fully animated spot, aimed at people living with COPD, is memorable and unique. It was nice to see GSK stay the course with the animation throughout, rather than taking a weird turn and going live-action.



8. Tamiflu/Genentech 

Tamiflu remains one of the best pharma brands on TV, in my opinion. This spot is unique and memorable, and it delivers a clear message. There is no question that you walk away from seeing this spot and think, “I'd better not get the BIG flu this year.”



9. Opdivo/Bristol-Myers Squibb 

This spot highlights a very important brand benefit — living longer — in an unusually direct and bold way. Standing out more for the messaging than the creative concept, the ad's key message is projected in big letters on the sides of buildings, making it very hard to miss why viewers should care. The creative team did a nice job of boiling down the science to what really matters.



10. Jardiance/Boehringer Ingelheim 

Jardiance packs a whole lot into this two-minute spot about how life can be tough with type 2 diabetes: How patients must avoid Mama's meatball night, 20 fast-food joints on the way home from work, and more. It takes 53 seconds to get to the brand itself, but when the ad finally does, it keys up its insights in a creative way.

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