Astellas waltzes into second season sponsorship of ABC’s ‘Dancing with the Stars’

Former pro boxer and celebrity TV host Laila Ali is fronting Astellas Myrbetriq's second year partnering with "Dancing With the Stars." (Astellas)

Astellas is hitting the dance floor again with a new partner. Former professional boxer and TV personality Laila Ali is the new spokeswoman for overactive-bladder drug Myrbetriq in the company’s second season sponsoring “Dancing With the Stars.” Ali, a former contestant on the celebrity dance competition, stars in two TV ads that will air exclusively on the ABC network.

In the commercials, Ali talks to the camera about looking for new challenges, including dancing competitively, writing a cookbook and raising children. She asks, “What’s next for you?” before a voiceover announces a chance to win a trip to watch DWTS in person.

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“Laila Ali was a natural fit for us,” John Colucci, assistant director of urology marketing at Astellas, said in an email interview. “She is a lifestyle expert with a relentless passion for encouraging others to make healthy lifestyle choices, and she constantly challenges herself by asking ‘What’s next?’”

The decision to sponsor a second year of the show was motivated by the first one’s success that “increased brand awareness and media exposure,” he said.

Last year’s collaboration with the show featured former DWTS contestant and actress Lea Thompson as spokeswoman who talked about how she rediscovered her love of dancing in TV ads. Astellas ran a similar campaign in 2016 with country music star Sara Evans starring in Myrbetriq ads that included a promotion to win a trip to the Country Music Awards.

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Myrbetriq’s audience is women ages 35-65 with symptoms of overactive bladder. Astellas’ 2017 annual report note that “OAB drugs have now become one of Astellas’ core growth drivers.” It reported Myrbetriq sales of $510 million in the Americas, a 34% increase over the previous year, and estimated it held a 31% annual share of the OAB treatment market.