DDR on DTC: Symbicort

Deborah Dick-Rath
Deborah Dick-Rath

Let's face it, the RX/DTC respiratory category has been very competitive, but not very memorable. The only exceptions have been Spiriva's elephant sitting on a patient's chest to show the discomfort of COPD, and, perhaps, GSK's BREO mnemonic effort. Now, however, we have a great new campaign for AZ's Symbicort that tackles another disease symptom—wheezing/shortness of breath—with an effective campaign that emotionally leverages the sufferer's age and familial relationships.

Symbicort cleverly uses the Three Little Pigs' nemesis the Big Bad Wolf to draw ­viewers into its :60 commercial. A grandfather reads the story to his grandson, who remarks that the wolf's breathing stress is “kind of like you sometimes Grandpa.” The commercial then transforms to a classic cartoon with the wolf visiting his doctor to learn about Symbicort, followed by a wolf birthday party at which the BBW can blow out all his candles. The fair balance and risk info run under the animation.

This spot works on so many levels. It emphasizes that the brand is adjunct treatment, and that it works within five minutes. And it may be subtle, but the animation style looks like the Disney cartoons that Boomers remember so fondly. So it's instantly memorable—a breakthrough for the category.

Deborah Dick-Rath is the president of Epic Proportions, a healthcare communications consultancy. She can be reached at deborahdrath@optonline.net