DDR on DTC: Cervarix

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And the Academy Award for Best Performance by a Vaccine in the Unbranded Category goes to… Cervarix! Forget Avatar vs. Hurt Locker, GlaxoSmithKline scored big on Oscar night with its own hit—an unbranded ad that alerts women to the urgency of preventing cervical cancer, with recently launched Cervarix playing “David” to Merck's well-entrenched Gardisil.

The ad is a winner because it brilliantly “traps” its target audience using the typical imagery and tonality of a perfume commercial. We see a woman rising from a sofa amid swirling stars and, while romantic music swells, floating toward a dreamy image. When out of the mist, a perfume bottle appears labeled “Cervical Cancer.” The commercial then halts to deliver the facts about this deadly disease.

Although the female voice-over admits it may be unfair to get our attention “this way,” no apology is necessary. Attracting attention is the whole point, and the Cervarix team, along with McCann HumanCare, has more than succeeded in doing just that!

The roadblock media plan to deliver the ad was brilliant. Running multiple times during the Academy Awards and on ABC's Oscars.com site virtually guaranteed a fully loaded target audience for the brand's educational message. Opportunities to forward the commercial via all that new media allows, further underscored the strategic planning and integration of this campaign. NPR covered it the next day, posing the question, “Is it a commercial or a PSA?” In my view, as long as it results in fewer cases of cervical cancer, the definition doesn't matter.

Deborah Dick-Rath is SVP, healthcare practice leader, at FactorTG. Contact: deborah.dick-rath@factortg.com

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