Bristol-Myers Squibb turns to DTC to promote Opdivo

Photo credit: iSpot

Bristol-Myers Squibb kicked off its first oncology DTC campaign in late September as it seeks to promote a new type of cancer drug to patients.

The TV spot, “Longer Life,” promises viewers “the chance to live longer” and represents the drugmaker's latest effort to grow awareness for Opdivo—as it competes in the second-line lung-cancer setting with Merck's Keytruda.

The advertisement shows the benefits of Opdivo as light cast on buildings, showcasing the drug's benefits, such as its survival advantage compared to chemotherapy. It features people from various walks of life—including a man pushing a child around in a stroller with his mother and a dad and his son at a baseball game.

Laurel Sacks, a Bristol-Myers Squibb spokesperson, said the campaign seeks to educate both patients and their families about new treatment options.

The campaign is BMS's first foray in using a TV ad to promote a cancer drug but it is not an industry first. Amgen's “Sisters” campaign for Neulasta—a drug that helps bolster cancer patients' ability to fight infection by raising their white blood cell count—kicked off in July.  

Sacks explained that part of the motivation behind the campaign was due to the public's perception of the disease.

“Lung cancer is an aggressive, highly stigmatized, difficult-to-treat disease with a high mortality rate and limited advancements in treatments over the past decade,” she said. “With this in mind, we developed a television advertisement about Opdivo for patients and their families to inform them … and encourage them to have an informed discussion with their physician about available treatment options.”

Opdivo and Keytruda are part of a new class of cancer drugs called immuno-oncology therapies. Both drugs are indicated to treat certain types of melanoma and lung cancer. Opdivo was approved for use in squamous forms of lung cancer in March. Its indication was expanded to nonsquamous forms in October. Merck's Keytruda was also approved to treat lung cancer in October.  

BMS confirmed the campaign's TV spot will run nationally and will include print and digital ads. The drugmaker is also offering a doctor discussion guide online at the brand website. Sacks declined to say which agencies developed the campaign.