Allergan and Ironwood are going where GI commercials have not gone before: into the bathroom. A new TV ad for Linzess, begun last week, features two different people sitting on the toilet—viewers see only their upper bodies—looking around expectantly and waiting. However, they soon emerge with smiling faces and a fist pump of victory to the voice-over tagline, “Say Yes to Linzess.”
The campaign is the first from Linzess’ new agency of record, Y&R New York. “Yes Linzess” replaces the previous work “Wearing on You” that featured people overwhelmed and buried by OTC treatments. Allergan tested the new idea with patients and focus groups to ensure that it would resonate.
“The last thing we’d ever want to do is offend someone. While you want to push the envelope, you never want to do anything in poor taste. We wanted to make sure that patients found it relatable, and they did,” Aimee Lenar, VP of gastroenterology marketing at Allergan, said, referring to patient and focus group testing. “These patients can spend a lot of time in the bathroom—that is a hallmark of the condition—and it can really be frustrating. We wanted to also show, though, patients leaving the bathroom after they’ve had success with Linzess.”
Linzess marketing over the past several years has focused on the suffering of patients with irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS-C) or chronic idiopathic constipation and the many OTC options they've already tried. The goal of this latest campaign, Lenar said, is to emphasize brand-name recognition and make it synonymous with success and finding relief. Hence the catchy rhyming, “Yes Linzess,” as well as the introduction of the celebratory fist pump, meant to demonstrate the “universal feeling of exhilaration after finding constipation relief,” she said.
The new campaign includes TV, print, digital, social and in-office media. April is IBS Awareness Month, which factored into the decision to start the new ads now.
Linzess was approved in 2012 and has since become the market leader in the category. Competitors include Synergy’s Trulance and Takeda’s Amitiza. Trulance recently added IBS-C to its label and is staffing up to help promote the new indication.
Allergan reported Linzess sales of $701 million in the U.S. in 2017, up from $626 million the previous year. Ironwood and Linzess share equally in brand collaboration profits, according to Ironwood filings. In 2017, a total of approximately 3 million prescriptions for Linzess capsules were filled, which marked an increase of 14% compared with 2016, Ironwood reported.