AstraZeneca's Farxiga campaign plays on 'F-words' for fresh and fun engagement

Farxiga crossed the blockbuster barrier last year with $1.07 billion in sales. (AstraZeneca)

AstraZeneca may be the first pharma to encourage use of the “F-word.” Although in this case, AZ is talking about its diabetes drug Farxiga, along with words like “food” and “fitness” that are important to overall Type 2 diabetes management.

Running in TV, print and digital, including social, the campaign AstraZeneca calls “Inspire” features active people doing things like dancing, swimming, running and eating out with friends, with text and voiceovers that talk about fighting Type 2 diabetes with fitness, food and Farxiga. Two TV ads currently running end with a voiceover directing interested viewers to “ask your doctor about the pill that starts with 'F.'”

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“The campaign focuses on the greater plan that must be put in place to take control of diabetes—the goal is to really inspire patients to consider all of the steps they should take in managing their diabetes,” Sarah Walters, AstraZeneca executive director, diabetes franchise, said in an email interview. “The inclusion of words that start with 'F' was to intentionally help trigger name recognition, so consumers feel empowered to have that active dialogue with their physician about one of the treatment options available to help manage their diabetes.”

Social media has played a key role in the campaign, which began last year. The two-way exchanges afforded on social media as well as the ability to build community are important as AstraZeneca looks “for places where we can meet our audience where they are, so we can learn from their feedback and adapt to serve them better.”

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Farxiga is an SGLT2 diabetes drug, part of a class that also includes Johnson & Johnson’s Invokana and  Boehringer Ingelheim and Eli Lilly’s Jardiance. The class has made headlines lately for outcomes trials and real-world studies showing that SGLT2 meds can cut down cardiovascular risks. Unfortunately for AZ, though, it doesn't yet have heart-helping outcomes data in hand for Farxiga like its competitors do, meaning that for now it can't promote the benefits suggested by its real-world data. 

Farxiga officially became a blockbuster for AstraZeneca last year, crossing $1 billion in annual sales with a global tally of $1.07 billion, a 29% increase over 2016.