Celebrex returns to TV with long, blunt spot

Pfizer resumed DTC television advertising for Celebrex on Monday with a whopping 150-second spot that takes up an entire commercial break. Turning conventions of traditional prescription drug TV spots upside down, the spot, created by Kaplan Thaler, presents its warning information first – noting that Celebrex, and rivals ibuprofen and naproxen, all may cause heart attack, stroke and death. Celebrex’s benefits are stated afterward. The two-and-a-half-minute Celebrex spot uses blue and white lines composed of words from the package inserts of Pfizer painkiller and other drugs to create animations of people running, dancing and riding a bicycle. Pfizer spokesman Jack Cox told MM&M the ad will appear on network and cable television with a print complement to appear in national publications such as Time and US News and World Report. The ad also appears on the product’s Web site at Celebrex.com. Each commercial may cost more than $200,000 to air. Pfizer yanked television advertising for Celebrex in the wake of the 2004 withdrawal of Merck’s Vioxx. An FDA panel later said that painkillers similar to Vioxx, known as COX- 2 inhibitors, also carried the same risks of heart attack and stroke. As a result, Pfizer withdrew its COX-2 Bextra from the market in April 2005. Celebrex, however, remains available to consumers. Even without a major TV ad campaign behind the brand, global sales of Celebrex jumped 18% in 2006, exceeding $2 billion.