Arthritis and DTC were made for each other, from the golden days of Celebrex to the overcrowded category it is today. Chief among the reasons for this: Chronic pain is highly symptomatic and very individualized. Arthritis/chronic pain starts thousands of patient-physician conversations every day. If a marketer wants its pain reliever mentioned, it has to turn on the DTC. AstraZeneca has taken a leaf from the traditional OTC analgesic playbook to position their latest NSAID, VIMOVO—which combines a PPI with Naproxen to provide an arthritis pain reliever without “stomach issues.”

Unfortunately, the DTC print ad is kind of a muddle because it does NOT really emphasize pain relief—the main reason to use the drug. Instead, it focuses on avoiding the risk of stomach issues and the design of VIMOVO. A cross-section of the pill (very OTC-ish) shows the dual ingredients—arthritis pain reliever and a medicine to “help reduce the risk of stomach ulcers.”

The imagery AZ chose for VIMOVO—an attractive older woman working in what looks like the High Line, a park built on an historic freight rail line over the streets of New York City's West Side—is the strangest part of the ad. It doesn't speak to arthritis or stomach issues. All we get is the cliché that gardening is the only thing +55's like to do.
We're glad that AZ is using DTC to start the conversation about this terrific product. But if they don't focus on pain relief, and correct the urban landscape, few people will actually be talking.

Deborah Dick-Rath is SVP, healthcare, at Symphony Advanced Me­dia, ddickrath@symphonyam.com

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