Shire snags eye-drop 'addicted' Jennifer Aniston as new dry eye spokeswoman

When asked during a recent interview if she had any addictions, actress Jennifer Aniston admitted to just one: eye drops. That sounded familiar to Shire ($SHPG) execs, who were doing market research for a dry eye marketing campaign. Having to use artificial tears many times a day was a common habit among sufferers.

So Shire contacted the well-known actress who went to see her eye doctor and, sure enough, was diagnosed with dry eye syndrome.

Now Aniston has become Shire’s spokesperson for its new eye health and disease education campaign called “eyelove.”

“It was an unexpected interesting match!” Victoria Noble, head of marketing for ophthamalics at Shire, said in an email interview with FiercePharmaMarketing. “The role of Jennifer in this campaign is to motivate and share her personal experience as a woman with dry eye" and share "how these symptoms have affected her for years.”

Aniston is only one part of the campaign, starring in one of the TV ads and speaking out about her experience. Two additional TV spots are running, along with digital, print, social media, in-office educational materials and public relations in the multichannel effort created with Digitas Health.

Shire and Digitas spent two years talking to thousands of eye care professionals and patients to get a better understanding of dry eye’s impact on patients and their needs. Meanwhile, it was advancing candidate Xiidra through the clinic, and the therapy won FDA approval in July before hitting the market this week. Eyelove, however, does not promote the product specifically; the Dublin drugmaker says it's planning a separate branded effort for Xiidra.

“The theme 'eyelove' is a generous platform that cuts across customers: both eye care professionals and patients who experience dry-eye symptoms. It seeks to educate women about their eyes. It also is about all the things they love to do and that these things get interrupted by dry eye symptoms,” Collette Douaihy, SVP and group creative director at Digitas Health, told FiercePharmaMarketing.

Shire goes up against Allergan ($AGN) and its incumbent med Restasis, although the two products are approved for different indications. Xiidra is the first approved specifically for dry eye, while Restasis is indicated for increasing tear production only.

Allergan is currently airing two different Restasis TV spots, and it's spent more than $20 million so far in 2016 on TV ads, according to data from real-time TV ad tracker iSpot.tv.

- read Shire's press release

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