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June 29, 2018 Bob Ehrlich0

The latest Chantix smoking cessation DTC television ad is featuring my favorite wise guy actor Ray Liotta. Looking a little grayer and heavier Ray is still the iconic member of the De Niro/Pesci crew from Goodfellas, maybe only slightly behind The Godfather in my favorites list. Ray is also in my favorite baseball movie Field of Dreams, portraying the leader of the dead baseball players returning to Kevin Costner’s cornfield.

Ray’s lifelong bugaboo was getting to stop smoking. Pfizer is using him to promote Chantix and rather than just being a paid announcer he is actually a real patient, still paid handsomely I assume. I like him in this role. Usually I wonder how much a celebrity adds to a drug pitch. Do potential users really care that a Hollywood type uses a drug? There have been very effective celebrity campaigns, Sally Field for Boniva, Jennifer Aniston for Dry Eye, Phil Mickelson for Psoriatic Arthritis to name a few.

Bob Ehrlich
“Ray got my attention.”
-Bob Ehrlich

A celebrity campaign needs to get the audience to believe that the celebrity actually uses or really believes in the drug advertised. There are some celebrities who endorse anything and pushing garlic pills, grape juice, reverse mortgages, might hurt your credibility when pushing a cancer treatment. Drug companies need to be very careful that the celebrity chosen has limited exposure as an endorser of health products.

Ray Liotta, to my recollection is not a serial endorser. In fact I do not remember him doing any commercials. That is a good first step. Can I Imagine Ray Liotta having a smoking habit? Sure can. Is Ray credible saying he has had a lifelong problem stopping smoking? Yes. So far so good. What is interesting about the campaign is that Chantix has been on air for years with regular folks pitching their success. Maybe they felt they needed to reinvigorate the story and potential customers would stop and re-engage after all the years of real patient testimonials. Ray got my attention, maybe a bit less than Joe Pesci would have, but any Goodfella is better than none.

I do not know if this is a one off use of a celebrity for Chantix or the first in a series. One thing we know is Hollywood is likely full of smokers, and addicts of other less than legal substances. No credibility issue with Ray having a smoking addiction. I am sure Pfizer will be very careful vetting their celebrity candidates. With all the problems of celebrity reveals on past sexual harassment/assault it is important to do your homework. I think they have chosen well here. Congratulations to Pfizer and their agency for a well done celebrity campaign.

June 1, 2018 Bob Ehrlich0

Allergan’s Botox is going “Brotox” in its latest DTC campaign. That term is not mine as I borrowed it from a Forbes article. Men, yes, we men are a vast untapped market for smoother skin. As I age, my frown lines are forming, and why not try to look better. For me being the frugal sort, I will personally pass and learn to love my new post 60 visage and save my money.

For those men interested in starting on the cosmetic road to rejuvenation Botox has decided to talk to you directly. From the actors in the DTC spot, it looks like the target are 40-50 year olds who are concerned about maintaining their youthful looks. A Matthew McConaughey type in an expensive suit is seen adjusting his tie as the announcer says, “details make the difference”. Another scene shows another professional who seems to be an architect while the voice over says what Botox is indicated to improve. A third actor is shown jogging while the indications are further discussed.

Bob Ehrlich
“Botox is going ‘Brotox’ in its latest DTC campaign.”
-Bob Ehrlich

The tone of the ad is that men who get Botox are not vain, just fine tuning their details which make the man better. The closing tag line is “The details make a difference; the man makes them matter.” I interpret that to mean this will not transform you, but just give you the little edge to boost your confidence. These men are already successful, and Botox will help them continue that on that track.

Why are men a DTC focus? It has everything to do with the huge market that is under developed with men. Botox is trying to get them to see cosmetic treatment as something that is perfectly normal and not just for Hollywood stars. They want to show that refining those little facial details is just another step in grooming and dressing well. In other words, real men can use Botox. The number is not yet big but growing fast. According to Forbes it was 400,000 in 2014 but grew over 300% in the last ten years.

So, Allergan sees the benefit in investing in a DTC campaign to make Botox more acceptable to men. That is not easy because the historical and cultural male image is to be accepting of those signs of age. The weathered face of the macho man is ingrained in our heritage. John Wayne and Charles Bronson would not use Botox. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards also a no. Maybe Matthew McConaughey and George Clooney would. So this effort is to get the 40 year old male to see cosmetic dermatology in a new light. The wear their baseball cap backwards generation will likely view these Botox tune-ups differently from my generation. Hey, why not if that is how you want to spend your discretionary dollars.

I still drive a Honda, buy most of my clothes on Amazon, and never will pay for first class air. Sorry Allergan but no Botox for me. Fortunately for them I am a dying breed of male. Goodbye Charlie Bronson and that weathered face. Smoother is in.