Heartburn medication Nexium is one of the Granddaddies of DTC. AstraZeneca has used DTC in its marketing mix since launch—more than 10 years ago—as the follow-up to AZ’s highly successful Prilosec brand. In fact, AZ has taught us a lot about acid reflux disease over the years. But now, it seems like Grandpa is getting tired. The latest Nexium campaign looks like the creative team simply gave up.

The :30 ad continues to focus, if not rely on, the brand’s “purple” heritage (even though some of us have never thought of a color as a strategy). In addition, there are no sufferers—nobody gets relieved. In fact, there are no humans in the ad… just handprints. This motif signifies “many people” for many brands in all kinds of promotional materials all over the world. We’ve seen them in every category. This time, however, Nexium is using the handprint with a tired double entendre—“relief is at hand.” There’s no insight, no compelling reason to try it—simply the bandwagon (and another pun) “millions have raised their hand for relief.” The Nexium website is very promotional, too—just a pill and a handprint to draw viewers in.

We’re surprised that AZ, a pioneer and leader in DTC, has sunk to this sales-brochure-level of advertising. Maybe Grandpa is going off patent and they’re tired of paying for exciting and innovative advertising. Or maybe they’re just tired of trying. Either way, the brand loses.

Deborah Dick-Rath is the president of Epic Proportions, a healthcare communications consultancy. She can be reached at [email protected]