Strikeforce founder and CEO and DTC Hall of Famer Mike Rutstein has always had cinematic ambitions for his medical marketing work. “We are in the business of making movies; it’s just that our movies are 60 seconds long,” he quipped.
With “Seeing Things Together,” the third spot Strikeforce has created for Acadia Pharmaceuticals’ Parkinson’s disease psychosis drug Nuplazid, the agency has attempted to raise the cinematic bar. The commercial follows a couple as they rediscover the joys of RV travel after the husband’s hallucinations are controlled.
Rutstein described “Seeing Things Together” as “a love story,” but an atypical one.
“What we experience in this spot is a real inflection point, where this couple is getting ready to get out and see the world again when suddenly the Parkinson’s patient opens the front door and experiences a hallucination,” he said. Roughly half of Parkinson’s patients experience hallucinations.
Strikeforce’s earlier work on Nuplazid focused on educating patients about the prevalence of delusions and encouraging caretakers to speak to healthcare providers about the symptoms they observe. But the new commercial, Rutstein says, is designed to prompt caretakers to “not only ask for [Nuplazid] but advocate for it.”
“Storytelling, authenticity and creating the narrative arc is really important,” he stressed. “There is a tension point in the story that sets up the value proposition.”
Indeed, “Seeing Things Together” embodies an approach and philosophy that is broader than any single campaign.
“What you are seeing a lot of in DTC these days is vignettes,” Rutstein explained. “There’s a shot, then another shot, then another shot. It’s just a mash-up of slice-of-life things. Frankly, you need storytelling and a narrative thread.”
To that end, Rutstein reported that the spot “tested through the roof.” He credited the positive feedback in large part to COVID-19, noting that the pandemic-era disruption to daily life is an everyday reality for Parkinson’s patients and caregivers.
“This has a cohesive story line that resonated even more deeply because of the COVID dynamic,” he said. “People have had to be shut in, and not actively engaged with life.”
Nuplazid, meanwhile, remains the only FDA-approved treatment for Parkinson’s disease psychosis.
“Some treatments used off-label are so sedating that they actually impair the patient. They don’t allow them to stay active and engaged,” Rutstein explained. “You put out one fire and you start another.”
Left unsaid in the spot is the additional urgency associated with Parkinson’s disease psychosis, given the nature of Parkinson’s itself and the typical age of patients who live with the condition.
“Time is especially precious at this stage of life and moments are meaningful,” Rutstein noted. “We want to give these patients the optimal life they can lead at this stage of their journey.”