Written by Richard Marcil on September 5, 2012
in Healthcare Marketing

Just can’t let this one slide by – I have to call it out…

What I’m referring to is Bayer’s new direct-to-consumer (DTC) campaign for Staxyn, an erectile dysfunction drug. First, though, let me applaud Bayer for pursuing DTC promotion. Given the trailblazing that both Pfizer and Lilly have done here, it’s next to impossible to ignore and not leverage DTC for any product launch in this category. But when competing in the consumer space, pharma marketers can’t just bring a knife to a gunfight.

For starters, the use of a branded DTC campaign doesn’t make things easy for the consumer because references to indications or claims are not allowed. What does Bayer do? The only thing it can do, hammer home “name, price and quantity.” This is what the ad looks like in indoor media.


Sure, it’s a cheeky approach for a pharma marketing geek like me. But it also took me some time to figure it out. Consider that the average consumer will look at this piece for seconds – if at all. And they’ll surely not pause and reflect on “the black pack” if they don’t know what the product is for, never mind call their physician. Oh, but there’s a QR code. Who doesn’t want to lunge at their smartphone while in the washroom?

If by some miracle the consumer remembers the brand name and the URL, the website is unfortunately not any more useful. Again, very cheeky from a marketing standpoint but of little relevance and utility for a consumer. In addition, little consideration was given to the SEO and SEM, where competitive products are promoted, and where linking to the U.S. website could be viewed as an ASC/Health Canada violation.

The point of this is not to bash Bayer or DTC promotion. Bayer is a sophisticated marketer, and DTC marketing is something pharma needs to do more of. The key to success, however, is having a deep understanding of the consumer, and more specifically the journey from consumer to patient. From that, we can engineer the appropriate touchpoints and serve the right messages, in both the consumer and the health professional spaces.

Think consumer.  Think journey.  Think action.

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