Buried in OTC remedies? That's the pitch in Allergan and Ironwood’s new Linzess ads

Linzess TV ad still 2017
Allergan, along with partner Ironwood, launched new advertising for IBS-C drug Linzess last week.

Allergan and Ironwood have introduced a new campaign for Linzess that points out the difficulty of managing too many OTC constipation treatments such as laxatives, fiber and probiotics. Computer-generated images of bottles and boxes of OTC treatments literally pile on top of people in the TV ads.

The new work switches out the well-received Linzess “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know” work, which featured visually engaging, stop-motion TV commercials. It was the only DTC pharma advertising to win an Effie Award this year and ranked in the Sweet 16 of FiercePharma’s DTC March Madness contest.

The new “Wearing on You” campaign acknowledges the many OTC treatments, diet changes and other remedies people try when fighting stomach pain and constipation. If those aren’t working, the ads suggest, the condition may be chronic and require a prescription treatment.

“It brings the point forward that what they are doing really isn’t managing (their condition),” says Sharon DeBacco, VP of product promotion and communication at Ironwood Pharmaceuticals.

“They tend to think they are managing quite well," she says, "but when they actually step back and are presented with everything that they are literally doing, it causes them a moment of pause. And generally elicits a response such as ‘Wow, maybe I really do need to talk to my doctor.’”

The new work will continue to target men and women dissatisfied with managing their belly pain and constipation with OTC treatments, said Aimee Lenar, VP of gastroenterology marketing at Allergan.

This is the first time the partners have introduced new creative for Linzess in the same year, Lenar said. Previously, they had run the same work in spring and fall, which are busier times for the IBS prescription market. Along with two TV ads, the new campaign will include print, digital and point-of-care marketing.

Linzess’ competition includes Takeda’s Amitiza and the newer Synergy Pharmaceuticals chronic idiopathic constipation treatment Trulance, approved in January. Trulance is currently under FDA review for an additional indication for IBS-C, but Synergy was dealt a blow this summer when ExpressScripts snubbed the drug on its preferred formulary list for 2018.