Pfizer DTC message: Hey guys, women say it's cool to take Viagra

Sure, drug companies, doctors and other men can tell those with erectile dysfunction that they're not alone. But do they listen more closely when they hear it from a woman?

That's what Pfizer's ($PFE) aiming to find out with a new Viagra commercial featuring an attractive blond on the beach. "So guys, it's just you and your honey. The setting is perfect. But then erectile dysfunction happens again," she says. "You know what? Plenty of guys have this issue, not just getting an erection, but keeping it."

Following more than a decade of Viagra campaigns starring men, the pharma giant made the switch to help put men with ED "at ease," Pfizer spokesman Steve Danehy told FiercePharmaMarketing in an email. It's a "new and unexpected approach to de-stigmatize ED" that the company hopes will reassure men and motivate them to speak with their doctors.

For Pfizer, it's not a bad time for a new approach to DTC marketing. In addition to Eli Lilly's ($LLY) blockbuster Cialis, Viagra counterfeits and a slew of generic rivals in Europe, it now has fast-acting Stendra to compete with.

That pill, which Auxilium ($AUXL) markets in the U.S. under a deal with maker Vivus ($VVUS), won FDA backing a couple weeks ago as a speedy treatment taken just 15 minutes before sex, as opposed to the 30 minutes its directions initially prescribed. By contrast, Pfizer advises men to take Viagra one to two hours beforehand.  

But as far as the new marketing angle, Pfizer isn't shooting in the dark. This August, the company asked 300 men to indicate whether certain TV concepts for Viagra would make them want to ask their doctors to prescribe the little blue pill. When it came to the female-focused ad, between 55% and 62% of men strongly agreed or somewhat agreed, Danehy said.

- watch the commercial

Special Report: Top 10 DTC Pharma Advertisers - H1 2013 - Pfizer

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