Over the years, we've seen a lot of disturbing images in DTC. Remember the monsters under the toenails, those suave and sexy bees, the little soldiers in your nose and the talking dots? We've had swarming platelets, moving intestines and gurneys that stalk people. And how about all those butterflies and the chatty beavers? But never have we have ever seen anything as odd as the Pristiq wind-up doll.
Although Wyeth is using this pint-sized automaton to convey that depressed people are “going through the motions,” their doll is just as scary as the Lamisil dermataphite that lifted the toenail and jumped in. Only where “Digger” was supposed to be scary-funny, the Wyeth doll is scary-sad.
No doubt the imagery resonated with sufferers in focus groups. But that's where the advertising should evolve from, not stop in its tracks. In this case, Wyeth was also faced with a common problem in DTC—an overwhelming amount of fair balance, which leaves a key visual to do the emotional branding. The question is, even though the doll illustrates a patient insight, is it the right image to attach to the brand?
In the TV version, Pristiq turns the doll back into a real person. That's kind of scary, too. Even though Pinocchio is certainly memorable, you've got to admit, his story was weird and frightening. Deborah Dick-Rath is SVP, healthcare practice leader, at FactorTG. Contact: email@example.com