New Cologuard ad tries humor to make colon screening accessible

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Exact Sciences launched the third DTC ad for Cologuard, its at-home colon cancer screening.

Cologuard is prescribed by doctors to patients with an average risk of the disease. Exact Sciences mails out the test. A patient deposits his or her stool sample and then ships it back to a laboratory. The results are then sent to the patient's doctor. The test checks for DNA changes that could be a sign of cancer, as well as blood in the stool.

The company's latest spot, No Place Like Home, first aired on September 11 and is meant to showcase the product's benefits when compared to undergoing a colonoscopy procedure, such as that it can be taken at home and patients don't need to prepare in advance.

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The ad features a personified Cologuard kit known as “little CG.” The walking and talking box takes viewers on a tour of all the places you should not take a Cologuard test, such as while waiting on line, or in a portable toilet, before arriving at home.

Deborah Lotterman, chief creative officer of Precisioneffect, which developed the campaign, said “little CG” is meant to “make the test accessible and friendly,” adding that the agency found that he aided consumers' recall of the test.

The company decided to personify the product to lighten up a serious topic, according to Leigh Myers, Exact Sciences' director of brand and patient marketing. “He helps to alleviate some of the barriers and fears that people associate with colon screening,” she said.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one-third of U.S. adults do not get screened for colon cancer. Lotterman said some of the reasons people put it off, according to their research, is due to misconceptions about the disease: that if you eat well you won't get the disease or that the only people who are diagnosed have a family history of colon cancer.

The first ad, Colon Cancer Screening Made Easy, debuted in 2016. The ads have aired on MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, Golf Channel, as well as syndicated programming, such as Wheel of Fortune, The Price is Right, and Jeopardy.  

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Since Exact Sciences' began advertising the test, its business has grown considerably. The company, whose only marketed product is Cologuard, saw its revenue grow by 139% from $36 million in 2015 to $87 million in 2016 — and, in its most recent earnings call, the company raised its annual forecast to between $230 million to $240 million for 2017 from $195 to $205 million. Cologuard was approved by the FDA in 2014.

Still, it is not the only noninvasive test to detect colon cancer. There are two others, the FIT and FOBT tests, which are cheaper but also less likely to detect the biomarkers of colon cancer than Cologuard, according to an overview of screening tests published in the World Journal of Gastrointestinal Oncology in 2016. That study estimates the Cologuard costs $599 per test and that the FIT test runs between $10 and $50.  

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