Viagra gives another reason not to be embarrassed

Pfizer's little blue pill uses an established brand pillar to tell consumers it can compete with generics on price.
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Viagra has high brand recognition, but the pill is still perceived as “significantly more expensive than generics,” by most men. That signalled an opportunity to evolve the brand’s messaging, says Guillaume Dubois, marketing manager at Pfizer Canada’s Upjohn division.

Dubois tells strategy says the new “Why Feel Embarassed” campaign reinforces previous direct to consumer efforts demonstrating that erectile dysfunction and talking about Viagra “is nothing to be shy about,” but also emphasize how similar the price for branded Viagra is to generics at pharmacies.

Following a Supreme Court of Canada ruling in 2012 that voided the Viagra patent, Pfizer cut the price of the erectile dysfunction medicine, bringing costs in line with generic versions of the drug. Julie-Catherine Racine, a Pfizer spokesperson at the time, told CTV News how the new price was about $37 for a package of four Viagra pills, down from $49.

Eight years later, Dubois says it is using the more mature Viagra brand to create an association with with lower prices – the one area generics still have a perception advantage.

In the new campaign, men freely talk about their intentions to go and buy Viagra at places like the line at a grocery store, insisting on getting the original brand because “it costs practically the same as the generic,” which helps make it less embarrassing than something like forgetting their reusable bag.

“The goal is to empower both new and existing Viagra users to ask with confidence for the brand they have come to rely on, especially since it is still at a reduced price,” Dubois says. “By not being shy to speak about their condition, it reflects the spirit of vitality that is associated with men being proactive and open about their health and wellbeing.”

The brand is continuing to use the theme of embarrassment because, anecdotally, consumer feedback has shown that the “humour associated with Viagra campaigns is a helpful conversation starter and icebreaker” when it comes to starting that conversation with their doctor, Dubois says.

Tank was the creative agency behind the campaign, which was launched in February and has been running in both English and French on TV and online.

In terms of the primary target for this campaign, Dubois referred to the 49.9%of men over 40 in Canada suffering from ED – as such, the initial play was targeted to sports broadcasts. Tank confirmed that the campaign is still in market and, though it was unable to provide more details, said the media plan had been adjusted after all major sports leagues postponed their seasons in response to COVID-19 to ensure the campaign was still seen by its target.