Xpectives News

DTC in Perspective: Chantix Goes Slow Turkey

February 22, 2019 by Bob Ehrlich0

I have been in the DTC business a long time. After seeing the excellent Ray Liotta ad I might have predicted the next version would use Joe Pesci or Robert De Niro. Chantix instead cast a wild turkey as its star. Who says DTC can’t be creative?

Bob Ehrlich
“Chantix breaks out with the creative…”
-Bob Ehrlich

In what will be a very memorable spot Chantix takes the “cold turkey” expression literally by casting a turkey to represent a person who quits smoking with Chantix. The story line is that Chantix allows you to gradually quit smoking by decreasing the urge and thus you don’t need to go cold turkey but go slow turkey as the spot is named. In a world where much of the DTC Ads have become boilerplate style, Chantix breaks out with the creative device here. Sometimes using a character to represent a brand is risky. It works well when we get an Aflac Duck. The question a brand and agency must wrestle with is will using a character diminish the serious nature of an Rx drug.

For DTC we have had a number of such character representations. Digger for Lamisil, the walking bladder for Myrbetriq, a dancing stomach for Prevacid are some DTC examples. The risk is that patients who suffer from disease may not like seeing their problem in character terms. Some diseases are clearly inappropriate for creating such treatments. I doubt cancer ads would contain a singing Lung.

For Chantix I love the use of the turkey. After seeing so many testimonial ads in DTC, it was certainly attention getting to see a turkey sitting by the pool dumping its ashtray. The ad was so different from Ray Liotta that I had to go back and make sure I was seeing correctly. Yes, that was Chantix.

Sometimes an attention getting character might have stopping power but dwarf the message. In this case the Chantix story still came through well and the creative just replaced a human with the turkey in situations like lounging by the pool or mowing the lawn. I give Pfizer a lot of credit for approving a story board so different from the traditional user testimonial. Ray Liotta was very effective but so is the turkey. The agency should be applauded for recommending it as it is not always easy to bring something so different like this to the client.

My concern is that Ray may want to whack the turkey for taking over as spokesperson. A Goodfella hates rivals. I do not know how long this turkey creative can last. After all there is no saying like cold squirrel or cold cow. I am afraid the pool out potential may be limited but that depends on the acting range of the turkey. That said if the turkey is meant to get potential Chantix users to get engaged this ad will do that very effectively.


Bob Ehrlich

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