AstraZeneca is answering OTC Prevacid with ads touting Nexium’s nighttime benefits.

The Purple Pill features 30-second TV spots that take a comical look at the lengths to which acid reflux sufferers will go for a good night’s sleep.

The first spot in the series, by Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness, shows a middle-aged man cranking up the head of his bed using a car jack to prevent nocturnal heartburn—and prompting the family cat to slide off with a yowl. The narrator says: “Desperate for nighttime heartburn relief? For many, Nexium helps relieve heartburn day and night.”
Print ads will launch in a few weeks, AstraZeneca said.

In November, Novartis Consumer Health launched OTC Prevacid24HR with a $200 million marketing campaign touting the drug’s promise of round-the-clock coverage. Nexium must also contend with P&G’s Prilosec OTC and Eisai/PriCara’s prescription AcipHex, among other treatments in the heavily advertised category.

Novartis consolidated consumer advertising for Prevacid24HR into Euro RSCG Adrenaline from Deutsch late last month. The Euro RSCG shop handles several other Novartis Consumer Health gastrointestinal brands, including Maalox, Excedrin and Benefiber. Deutsch continues to handle advertising for Novartis’ Exelon Patch.

P&G recently launched a social media-centric contest for Prilosec, inviting consumers to post videos making their case for company-sponsored items to help them pursue their passions, and the brand has been plugging an NFL tie-in through its Madden Most Valuable Protector’s Award, which Madden himself presented to the New Orleans Saints’ offensive line at the Super Bowl.

The winners were determined by a combination of fan votes, performance stats and a “purple ribbon panel” consisting of NFL Network analysts Jamie Dukes, Marshall Faul, Steve Mariucci and NFL Network host Rich Eisen.
Madden said in a statement: “The Saints offensive line has been a model of consistency all season and are truly a deserving winner. I am very passionate about this award that Prilosec OTC helped to create, and hope this encourages football fans to pay attention to the less watched parts of the game like run blocking and pass protection.”