J and J unit Centocor will next week launch an unadvertised documentary in
movie theaters about patients with Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. It is hoped the movie will trigger patients with these conditions to ask their doctors about Remicade, a treatment for inflammatory disorders involving the immune system.
And the strategy is a significant change for the brand managers at Centocor. In 2005, they placed $13.5 million in consumer advertising behind the brand, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus. But in 2006, that budget dropped to less than $1 million. Now, without any above-the-line promotion, the company is hoping to attract an audience by encouraging support-group members to attend screenings of the movies, which will be followed by a discussion.
It is also noted that no product is mentioned in the ad, hence my use of the term "stealth marketing."
Pharmalot also weighed in on the matter. Here's a snippet:
"This is a whole new dimension in direct-to-consumer advertising," counters Jerry Avorn, a Harvard researcher and author of "Powerful Medicines: The Benefits, Risks and Costs of Prescription Drugs."What makes me edgy about it is if it is going to be a commercial, you should know it's a commercial. I'm very troubled by the blurring of the lines between advertising and patient education." Okay, we know DTC ads are under attack for flouting side effects and pushing consumers to ask their docs for meds they don't need. So J and J is being clever. Let's give them that. But let's not pretend a 'documentary' isn't an ad when the producer has such a vested interest. What's next? A Broadway musical featuring children with ADHD who sing and dance their way to a happy ending after taking Concerta?Just an example of some of the good work you'll find at BrandweekNRX and Pharmalot.