Eli Lilly is bringing its Get Better ad campaign to the 96th Academy Awards Sunday night to promote its GLP-1 drugs and remind people that they aren’t for cosmetic weight loss purposes.

The pharma giant announced Thursday morning that it will air two short films — Big Night and Shame — on Oscar night.

Shame will run during the broadcast and Big Night will run E!’s Live from the E! Red Carpet to not only reinforce its commitment to the burgeoning GLP-1 space but also directly confront the stigma surrounding this class of drugs.

The company’s two GLP-1 products Mounjaro and Zepbound, have been runaway successes treating type 2 diabetes and obesity, respectively. 

In its most recent quarterly earnings report, Lilly said Mounjaro’s revenue topped $2.2 billion, up from $279 million one year earlier, while Zepbound, which received approval for treating obesity from the Food and Drug Administration in early November, generated nearly $176 million in its first quarter on the market. 

However, like rival Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic and Wegovy, the drugs have become the subject of such widespread interest and unprecedented demand for off-label weight loss that patients who are prescribed the drugs or those who it is indicated for have faced shortages over the past year or so.

That’s why Lilly is deploying these ads during Obesity Care Week and drawing attention to the scarcity problems caused by rampant misuse as well as the stigma associated with taking these drugs in the first place.

In the 30-second Big Night, a voiceover calls out the people who have been using a medicine “never meant for them for a smaller dress or tux.”

It continues by asserting that vanity is not the point of these drugs and that Lilly works on developing and distributing GLP-1s for the health of people affected by obesity.

The ad concludes with a title card that reads, “It matters who gets them.”

Meanwhile, in the minute-long Shame ad, a female protagonist proceeds through life in a black-and-white world, receiving dismissive and critical glances from family members and strangers about their body size.

The ad features a voiceover that challenges the notions of stigma related to one’s weight and the use of GLP-1 drugs to lower the risks associated with obesity. 

“Health is not about what weight we lose,” the voiceover says. “It’s about all the things the body can gain.”

Before concluding, a title card reads, “Obesity is a matter of health. Shame has no place in it.”

“These new films showcase our point of view around obesity—emphasizing our commitment to patients by highlighting the seriousness of this disease and the appropriate use of anti-obesity medicines,” said Jennifer Oleksiw, Lilly’s global chief customer officer, in a statement. “The overall Lilly Get Better campaign is aimed at showing who we are — a medicine company that turns science into healing — since many people may not know us beyond our individual medicines.”

Lilly’s public debut of this chapter of the Get Better ad campaign comes amid an increasingly heated rivalry with Novo and emerging competitors like Roche and Viking Therapeutics in the GLP-1 market.

Not to be outdone on the advertising front Novo produced the Thick Skin documentary that aired on the Sundance channel in September and explored obesity in America. The drugmaker also enlisted agency partner FleishmanHillard and actress Queen Latifah for its Inclusive Obesity Care Initiative to reduce the stigma for people living with obesity.

Like Lilly, Novo’s treatments have supported its bottom line, with sales of diabetes and obesity care products rising 42% during Q4,  GLP-1 diabetes sales jumping 52% and obesity care sales skyrocketing 154%.

However, despite the financial windfall, both Lilly and Novo are also dealing with lingering, severe shortages related to fulfilling orders of their GLP-1 products.

To that end, Novo’s parent company bought contract manufacturer Catalent for $16.5 billion in an effort to bolster its manufacturing capabilities.

To read an April 2024 article about Eli Lilly raising financial guidance thanks to robust diabetes sales in Q1, click here.