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AbbVie’s blockbuster giant, Humira, is used to being top dog in the pharma industry. But it had a rude awakening in 2021, when it’s massive $20 billion annual sales figure was shattered by Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. And now, AbbVie’s having to settle for the final podium place in the TV pharma ad spending world.
According to new data from iSpot.tv, AbbVie spent $176.4 million on TV ads for the Humira, which is approved for Crohn’s, colitis, arthritis, psoriasis and more. But this was a 50% drop from the $346.4 million it spent back in 2020, putting it in third place for top pharma TV ad spenders during 2021.
That cut in spending helped push Sanofi and Regeneron’s Dupixent, also an autoimmune drug that treats asthma and eczema, up to the top spot, with spend hitting $287.6 million, up from the $228.4 million in 2020.
And it was Novo Nordisk that snuck into the second position for its recently launched oral diabetes drug, Rybelsus, which saw spend jump from just $61 million in 2020 to a major $225.2 million last year. This all comes as Novo ramps up launch efforts after its initial September 2019 FDA approval as the first oral GLP-1 drug for diabetes.
Fourth and fifth places, AbbVie’s Rinvoq and Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic, respectively, also saw larger spend growth year-on-year. AbbVie is clearly trying to boost its ad spend for Rinvoq—the company’s second entry on the top-10 list—as it ramps up its focus maneuvering the newcomer to take on the large sales loss that will inevitably be felt from Humira in the coming years.
While the focus of Rinvoq’s main ad in 2021 was on its original rheumatoid arthritis label, the drug recently nabbed approvals in psoriatic arthritis and also the big disease area in terms of sales potential: atop dermatitis. Scrutiny over Rinvoq’s drug class, namely JAK inhibitors, has raised some safety flags, but with its new AD label, be on the lookout for a major ad push this year.
Novo’s Ozempic has the same active ingredient as its other diabetes drug, Rybelsus, i.e., semaglutide, but is an injectable and thus has a different brand. Novo has taken different approaches with its ads for both drugs, though with similar themes: an outdoor motif with new editions of older songs accompanying each.
Diabetes meds took the next two places on the top-10 list, as well. Eli Lilly’s total 2021 spend on its type 2 drug Trulicity remained almost flat, spending just under $4 million more last year than in 2020. And it was a similar story for Boehringer and Lilly’s Jardiance, which saw ad spend up just $5 million for the year-on-year period.
All diabetes players are hoping to bring more to the table beyond simply lowering blood sugar levels. Heart benefits and weight loss are two leading areas of focus in recent years, which is also reflected more in their ads.
Next up is Skyrizi, the third AbbVie drug in the top 10, but also one of the rare drops in spend for the year. AbbVie spent $4.9 million less on the plaque psoriasis drug in 2021 than in 2020.
The ninth place went to a novelty on a list dominated by drugs ads for autoimmune diseases and diabetes: Otsuka and Lundbeck’s antidepressant Rexulti. Ad spend bumped up a healthy $14.5 million year-on-year, and the campaign went with a bold “stop making excuses” tagline for its leading ad.
And last place isn’t least, with Johnson & Johnson almost doubling its 2020 spend on Tremfya, another plaque psoriasis med. J&J’s 2021 spend was $105.7 million, up from $53.8 million the year before and catapulting the IL-23 monoclonal antibody into the list.
The data are out from iSpot.tv and shared with Fierce Pharma Marketing. The company tracks pharma brand (not OTC) spending and is crunched from national TV ads from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2021.
Leading ad: “Why hide your skin?”
Spend in 2021: $43 million
Run time: April 2021 to present
What is it? Sanofi and Regeneron’s Dupixent is a monoclonal antibody for allergic diseases such as eczema, asthma and nasal polyps
Total ad spend in 2021: $287.6 million
Spend in 2020: $228.4 million
Change from 2020: Up 26%
Sanofi and Regeneron focused their leading ad for 2021 on children and adolescents, tapping into Dupixent’s approval to treat kids six years and over for eczema. The branded commercial sees kids swimming, singing and dancing with the tagline “Hide our skin? Not us!” and shows a pair of adolescent swimmers with disappearing red marks on their legs. It also uses a real patient—a young ballet dancer, who can now dance confidently without fear of her eczema causing issues.
Leading ad: “Waking Up: Possible”
Spend in 2021: $84 million
Run time: July 2021 to present
What is it? Novo Nordisk’s oral type 2 diabetes medicine
Total ad spend in 2021: $225.2 million
Spend in 2020: $61 million
Change from 2020: Up 269%
Taking the second spot with a massive $84 million spend on its leading ad, Danish diabetes powerhouse Novo Nordisk focused its “Waking Up: Possible” TV spot on an animated approach accompanied with a loud, rock rendition of “You Are My Sunshine.” The Rybelsus ad shows people starting the day on a sunny, positive note and playing together on the beach. It revolves heavily around the drug itself—why Novo believes it is different from its competitors and how it can help lower blood sugar levels.
Leading ad: “Recording Studio”
Spend in 2021: $43.2 million
Run time: April to December 2021
What is it? AbbVie’s anti-inflammatory drug, which made $20 billion in 2020
Total ad spend in 2021: $176.4 million
Spend in 2020: $346.4 million
Change from 2020: Down 49%
Humira has a load of indications, but its leading ad was “Recording Studio” for ulcerative colitis, where a young woman finds that her condition is interfering with her job at a recording studio and shows her grabbing her stomach with a grimace and having to leave to find a restroom. Later, she’s unable to eat alongside her friend at home and then, with the common line used by AbbVie for its Humira franchise, says that it was “keeping me from being where I need to be.” But using Humira, she can “achieve remission that can last.”
Leading ad: “Your Mission: Motorcycle”
Spend in 2021: $103.8 million
Run time: March to August 2021
What is it? AbbVie’s JAK inhibitor Rinvoq for rheumatoid arthritis and more recently psoriatic arthritis and atopic dermatitis
Total ad spend in 2021: $165 million
Spend in 2020: $122.6 million
Change from 2020: Up 35%
Rinvoq, vying for similar market space as leaders Humira and Dupixent, focused its leading ad for 2021 on its so-called “Your Mission” platform that began in 2020. Last year had a speed theme, with “Your Mission: Motorcycle” zeroing in on “taking on” your mission, with the mission being taking Rinvoq to help ease a motorcyclist’s rheumatoid arthritis. But it’s not just the open road calling RA sufferers, but construction work and other physical efforts also looking easier. It also has a short blurb on what causes RA, and how its drug can help.
Leading ad: “Pickleball”
Spend in 2021: $75.2 million
Run time: July to December 2021
What is it? Novo Nordisk’s injectable type 2 diabetes treatment
Total ad spend in 2021: $150.7 million
Spend in 2020: $128.7 million
Change from 2020: Up $17%
Novo has carved out its injectable type 2 diabetes drug, Ozempic, as being a different brand from its oral med, Rybelsus, despite them both having the same active ingredient, and it’s taking a different approach for their respective ads. For Ozempic, Novo went for a musical theme, re-writing Pilot’s 1970s “Magic” hit to instead sound out “Ho, ho, it’s Ozempic” with an on-brand dark orange theme. The ad focuses on a woman not letting diabetes “knock her out of her zone,” within a ball game theme.
Leading ad: “On his game”
Spend in 2021: $54.1 million
Run time: April to December 2021
What is it? Eli Lilly’s type 2 diabetes medicine
Total ad spend in 2021: $149.5 million
Spend in 2020: $145.8 million
Change from 2020: Up 2.6%
A nephew looks up to his uncle who’s “really on his game” playing basketball or just hanging out by the beach, taking control of his diabetes with Trulicity. Lilly also touts how well the drug can help control weight and be beneficial to the heart, with accompanying shots of the uncle running, playing sports and generally being fit and active.
Leading ad: “We’re on It”
Spend in 2021: $29 million
Run time: September to present
What is it? Boehringer and Lilly’s Jardiance type 2 diabetes medicine
Total ad spend in 2021: $124.2 million
Spend in 2020: $119.2 million
Change from 2020: Up 4.2%
An older group of active adults initially tout the 25 million prescriptions of Jardiance handed out in the U.S., before racking up how it’s helping manage their diabetes and heart risk. The ad doubles down on the cardiovascular benefits, a common theme in newer diabetes ads, saying boldly that it can “help save your life from a heart attack or stroke.”
Leading ad: “Clear skin”
Spend in 2021: $61 million
Run time: March to present
What is it? AbbVie’s anti-IL-23 antibody for plaque psoriasis
Total ad spend in 2021: $121.3 million
Spend in 2020: $126.2 million
Change from 2020: Down 3.9%
Another AbbVie ad made it into the top-10, this time for its plaque psoriasis therapy Skyrizi and it’s no frills title “Clear skin” ad. The ad rings out with the “Nothing Is Everything” song, with a middle-aged father, celebrating his teenage daughter’s 16th birthday and having the confidence to take off his shirt and play in the sun and the sea.
Leading ad: “Excuses”
Spend in 2021: $37.5 million
Run time: April to September 2021
What is it? Otsuka and Lundbeck’s atypical antipsychotic for major depressive disorder
Total ad spend in 2021: $107.9 million
Spend in 2020: $93.4 million
Change from 2020: Up 15.5%
Otsuka and partner Lundbeck ran a series of ads for its atypical antipsychotic, Rexulti, but “Excuses” was its leading effort and focused on a young woman holding an ironic smiley face cut-out while putting off seeing her friends because of her depression. She visits her doctor, who tells her about using Rexulti along with other meds, which helps her stop making excuses and enjoy a trip to the bowling alley.
Leading ad: “Emerge”
Spend in 2021: $83 million
Run time: January 2021 to present
What is it? Johnson & Johnson’s monoclonal antibody against interleukin-23 for plaque psoriasis
Total ad spend in 2021: $105.7 million
Spend in 2020: $53.8 million
Change from 2020: Up 96.4%
The grittiest and most disease-focused ad of the top 10, J&J leads with patients embedded with glass, or burning up or with heavy metallic joints, speaking about the burning, itching and the “stinging; my skin was no longer mine.” But they “emerge Tremfyiant” (sic) after taking Tremfya, breaking free of the pain of plaque psoriasis.
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Goodbye Humira, hello Dupixent: Sanofi and Regeneron outspend AbbVie to top 2021's pharma TV ad spenders – FiercePharma
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