TV ads for prescription drugs loosened up a bit in 2008 and exercised greater creativity despite intense scrutiny, The Nielsen Company found in a review of advertising recall rates for 2008.
Nielsen said 2007 recall rates were noticeably lower than in previous years as advertisers took a more conservative approach. For 2008, recall rates bounced back. A Cialis spot was the most-recalled TV drug ad, followed closely by an ad for another Lilly product, Cymbalta.
“This past year, we've had some breakthrough advertising, as evidenced by Cialis and Cymbalta ads that really embody what makes for strong, memorable creative,” said Fariba Zamaniyan, SVP, healthcare at Nielsen. “They used unique copy that's relevant to the targets they're communicating with, and they've done so using means other than the traditional pharma approach to advertising.”
The most-recalled spot for Cialis features a couple whose intimacies are interrupted by a surprise visit from a college age daughter. Two other Cialis spots were among the nine ads that scored better than average in viewer recall for the year, according to Nielsen. Most of this year's best-performing spots were, like the new execution in Lilly's Depression Hurts series for Cymbalta, extensions of long-running campaigns, noted Zamaniyan. “That shows you can continue to be memorable and effective and still fall within the guidelines put forth by FDA,” said Zamaniyan. “We've seen renewed faith that this category can be effective given the restrictions it must operate within. And this is coming from a year when advertisers were under the microscope, because you had Vytorin and Liptor and all that chaos that ensued at the beginning of the year.”
Nielsen measures for 24-hour recall with daily surveys of a 6,000-person panel. The data firm's findings are an aggregate of responses to new drug ads that launched in 2008, and indicate the number of viewers who correctly recalled the storylines of spots that ran on network primetime broadcasts 24 hours later. The top-scoring Cialis ad was 55% more memorable than the average score and the runner-up, for Cymbalta, was 51% more effective, whereas the top-scoring ad of 2007, a spot for Schering-Plough's Nasonex, was only 38% more memorable than average.