Glaxo ad touts info phone line

Client: Glaxo CanadaProduct: ImitrexAgency: Ogilvy & Mather DirectAdirect response tv spot encouraging migraine sufferers to phone for information on the latest developments in the treatment of migraines enabled prescription drug manufacturer Glaxo Canada to indirectly promote its medication without contravening strict...

Client: Glaxo Canada

Product: Imitrex

Agency: Ogilvy & Mather Direct

Adirect response tv spot encouraging migraine sufferers to phone for information on the latest developments in the treatment of migraines enabled prescription drug manufacturer Glaxo Canada to indirectly promote its medication without contravening strict regulatory standards regarding prescription drug advertising, says a company spokesman.

Tim Turnbull, Glaxo’s manager of corporate affairs, says prescription drug manufacturers are prohibited from advertising their products directly to the public because government regulations require that prescribing decisions be made by a doctor.

But they can encourage consumers to see their doctors for further information. And it is to doctors, pharmacists and specialists that brand name advertising is directed.

Migraine sufferers who called the 1-800 number listed in the commercial were mailed a brochure, produced by The Migraine Foundation and sponsored by Glaxo, which outlines headache types, migraine triggers and the variety of treatments available.

The brochure encourages readers to see their doctors to determine the best course of treatment.

The centre spread of the brochure is devoted to major advances and mentions Imitrex, Glaxo’s migraine medication, by name.

According to Turnbull, the number of calls to the direct response toll-free number exceeded 20,000.

Q. How did the campaign come about?

A. Normally, when you are talking about prescription drugs, you are usually going to doctors, to specialists and to pharmacists, to tell them about a new drug, or new treatment approaches.

But with migraine, there are a huge number of people who could use some help, who might be candidates for revised prescriptions, who aren’t even going to see their doctor. They say, ‘I’ve tried all sorts of things, I give up, I’ll just suffer.’

According to our research, migraine sufferers are regarded as relatively stoic. They have resigned themselves to having this problem. They don’t necessarily get the sympathy from family, friends and co-workers that they deserve.

If they are not going to see their doctor to talk about it, then how can you get them to even consider it?

Q. What were your objectives?

A. There are two main objectives to this campaign: one is trying to increase public understanding of migraine.

The other is to encourage ‘silent sufferers’ to see their doctor. Silent sufferers are people who have given up hope of bringing their migraines under control, or who may not be aware that over the past couple of years there are new ways of diagnosing and treating migraine.

What we were trying to do is give people the information they need to make an informed decision and encourage them to seek further advice.

Q. Why did you choose direct marketing as the vehicle to get your message across?

A. Direct response was useful for a couple of reasons.

We have a lot of restrictions [in advertising pharmaceutical products] that other people don’t have.

What you end up doing with this type of campaign is raise awareness of the entire disease.

And then, if you have been doing a good job with the product, you will potentially get your share of prescriptions.

It turned out that our objectives were shared to a fair degree with The Migraine Foundation.

Their goal of trying to reach out to more people, create greater awareness of migraine, and, potentially, get new members, dovetailed nicely with our objective of getting those silent sufferers to see their doctors.

Q. How did you make the creative work for your product?

A. We used direct response television for several reasons.

The impact of demonstrating how painful migraine is could be graphically shown on tv. The commercial shows a child playing on swings while a mother is upstairs writhing in pain.

It was going to be a relatively short campaign, so tv was the one to provide reach. It was also an instant call-to-action.

In terms of getting migraine sufferers to seek more information so that they could understand more about it, or review their treatment, then it was vital to have some kind further information available.