Tezspire, the treatment for severe asthma from Amgen and AstraZeneca, is back with an updated commercial for its ongoing Be You campaign.  

Some readers may recall that last year, this column covered the launch of Be You, the first direct to consumer campaign for Tezspire. The effort was built around a number of different asthma sufferers, all represented by animated characters. 

The cast included Geraldine, a grandmother with a passion for hot rods; Mel, a mother with asthma seen chopping wood; Kai, a Samoan ice sculptor for whom cold air is a trigger; and Hawk, a punk rocker with a fondness for kittens. 

In the updated commercial push, the last character on that list has become the star of the show. This follows a time-tested marketing strategy: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. 

With the success of Be You last year, Amgen and AstraZeneca decided to build on its existing cast of characters with a deeper dive into the back story of Hawk.

Flashing back to the start of his music career, Hawk is seen rehearsing in a garage (with an asthma-triggering cat present, too). Ultimately, he’s able to address his asthma symptoms by using Tezspire.

The campaign’s latest spot was unveiled earlier this fall during the third week of September, coinciding with Asthma Peak Week, a time when asthma flares are at their highest.

Kristin Layton, consumer marketing director for respiratory at Amgen, describes the inspiration for the initial campaign and its newest iteration as a diverse group of characters with a diverse group of triggers.

“When we did some research we saw that Hawk’s story in particular had some resonance and so we looked at his earlier life,” she says. “He had aspirations to be in a band and we built the narrative showing he could be in one and also still enjoy his love of cats. People related to his story.”

Leaning into animation has been key to the success of the Be You campaign, as Caty Smith, executive director and U.S. head of marketing for Tezspire at AstraZeneca, explains. 

“It’s interesting because with real-life human characters, it can become generic and predictable and you are often limited to focusing on one person,” she says. “The current spot can pull in a diverse crowd, which is important with a condition like asthma. It is easier to make animation heart-warming and relatable and it also allows you to make the triggers stand out.”

The new iteration of the campaign also features an additional cast member: Hana, who is the result of feedback from consumers. 

“Hana, an asthma specialist, was born out of what we hear often: that patients aren’t aware of specialists,” Layton says. “We wanted to give a face to what a specialist would look like and then make her approachable and give patients confidence to have a conversation. It was another way to support the physician-patient relationship.”

While the TV spot featuring Hawk is the principal focus of this phase of Be You, Layton and Smith also note that there have been a number of updates to the Tezspire website since last year. 

Both organizations have improved the site to provide a more cohesive flow while the doctor discussion guide has been revised to make it more dynamic. The ultimate goal is to encourage more individualized and personalized discussions with physicians. 

Though Hawk has been given the starring role in the TV spot, the Be You campaign is also finding ways to provide all its characters with opportunities to become the lead stars in different deployments. 

The extended narratives of these characters will appear across other channels going forward, with each one having their backstory before and after Tezpire explained in greater detail. 

For Smith, these deep dives into how Kai, Mel and other characters’ stories are, in the end, about their asthma symptoms, first and foremost. 

“Asthma is a symptomatic disease. If you aren’t recognizing your symptoms, you are ignoring them,” she says. “We hope with Hawk that people will see they are suffering in similar ways and then be inspired to do something like Hawk did and get back to living a life that you choose to live.”