The success of Novo Nordisk’s wildly popular weight-loss drugs Ozempic and Wegovy has been perhaps too much of a good thing for the drugmaker. 

While these GLP-1 drugs have helped to push its market valuation beyond that of Tesla and its own home country of Denmark, supply-chain issues and assuring continuity of use for consumers have presented significant operational challenges. 

It’s with this double-edged sword as context that Novo recently launched Believe On, a campaign for Wegovy represents a reaction to the drug’s remarkable mainstream recognition. 

Rather than leading with a message touting the benefits of Wegovy, the pharma company chose to emphasize healthcare professionals (HCP) and build on its history of marketing that encourages us to rethink obesity.

Reshaping the weight loss narrative 

The television spot  at the center of the Believe On campaign is a celebration of the persistence and resilience of patients attempting to lose weight. 

In essence, it’s a feel-good montage highlighting perseverance in the face of setbacks. 

The ad deliberately avoids ending with a typical call-to-action “to ask your physician” about the treatment option. 

Christine Szymanski, consumer marketing lead for obesity, has been with Novo Nordisk for 17 years ago — spending a decade focused on obesity. She describes three differences that distinguish the Believe On campaign, with the first being a desire by the company to communicate its commitment to the HCP community as well as the obesity community. 

The second was addressing misinformation and confusion. She says it was critical for Novo to make sure that viewers know Wegovy is the only FDA-approved weight-management medicine containing semaglutide from Novo Nordisk. This comes amid a rise in counterfeit products claiming to contain the active ingredient, which could harm patients.

Lastly, she says the drugmaker wanted to acknowledge the challenges with supply.

The role of the healthcare providers is one that Szymanski notes is highlighted even more on the Believe On website, which addresses both consumers and HCPs.

“We talk about not only the setbacks and the challenges that people living with obesity face along the way, but we also talk about the tireless efforts of healthcare providers who are doing their very best to help manage patients,” she says. “It’s that combination — it’s both working together that helps people manage their weight over time.”

Obesity campaign still
Image used with permission.

Another feature that is hard to miss on the website is a button that leads to a separate website with updates on Wegovy supply. 

“We recognize the importance of being transparent about our supply,” Szymanski shares. “We’re continuing to expand the amount of product and supply into the market throughout the year. That is an important part of this overall Believe On campaign. Not only is it challenging to live with obesity, but we want people to understand that we are in this with them and we are working on solutions alongside them.”

Obesity is misunderstood

While Believe On is a branded campaign in support of Wegovy, it builds on previous marketing efforts from Novo that attempt to shift the conversation around obesity. 

As a matter of fact, this column covered one of those other efforts just a few months ago. In the fall, Novo debuted its Thick Skin documentary, which portrayed the lives of four larger women in Philadelphia. The film was created by the drugmaker and AMC Networks for its premiere on the Sundance channel.

Szymanski says it’s important to have these campaigns out in the world as part of an ongoing process to redefine how we talk and think about obesity. She adds that the company is highlighting how misunderstood the disease is, taking it out of the shadows and dispelling the notion that it’s a willpower problem. 

“We are excited to continue with educational messaging that brings it out of the shadows and shines a light on the fact that it is a disease, not a willpower problem, and it’s very important that it be represented as a disease,” she says. “This Believe On campaign in many ways does that as well. It takes a different tone. It focuses more on the journeys that people go through and the challenges that they face.”

She reiterates that managing obesity is challenging for both patients and HCPs because it’s about so much more than willpower.”

“I hope that this campaign inspires all of us to change the way that we’re thinking about obesity and that people understand Wegovy and Novo Nordisk are committed to this community for the long term,” she concludes. 

For a March 2024 article about Novo purchasing heart disease biotech Cardior Pharmaceuticals, click here.