Welcome back to Pradaxa, a drug to prevent stroke, with a new ad campaign. The new television ad is quite unique. It is entirely a simulation of what happens in a blood clot caused by atrial fibrillation. What is really interesting is the use of swimming fish to represent blood cells.
The competition Eliquis and Xarelto have been big DTC spenders since launch. Pradaxa appears to have stopped a heavy DTC television effort in 2014. It seems they decided to return with a heavy television media buy and completely new creative this month. The three heavy spending brands now have very different creative approaches. Eliquis has the very common theme of a patient telling a story of why they chose Eliquis. Xarelto has gone celebrity with golf legend Arnold Palmer actor Kevin Nealon, race car driver Brian Vickers, and basketball star Chris Bosh. All three ads can be seen on Ispot.tv.
Pradaxa decided to leave its past approaches of doctor testimonial and father and daughter conversation. Instead it changed to a very engaging, but simple visual of the red fish (blood cells) swimming through the circulatory vessels and showing how they can clump together to form a clot that can travel to the brain. I have to say I paid attention to this ad. Somehow the little fish were hypnotic and I could not stop watching.
I am sure the marketing team tested the ad and got very good recall of the visual and the message of how Pradaxa helps prevent the clot. What I like is that Pradaxa developed a unique look that gives it a competitive difference. All three commercials work and I cannot comment on which is actually best at generating sales increases. What I can say is Pradaxa needed something different and could not re-enter using standard vignettes or doctor testimonials. Using a memorable device allows potential customers to discuss the Pradaxa ad with doctors using either the brand name or saying the ad with the fish. I assume the Pradaxa detail force let doctors know about the new campaign in advance or as it aired.
The stroke category spends over $200 million a year and the re-entry of Pradaxa will add to that level. Whether this new ad is just a test by Pradaxa or a major full year campaign remains to be seen. If they are to get competitive share of voice they will need to spend at least $50 million as both Eliquis and Xarelto are saturating the airwaves with $75-100 million each. Usually an ad campaign needs at least three months to measure effectiveness and that means I expect to see Pradaxa ads at least through the spring.