AstraZeneca's first Breztri ad uses an animated fantasyland to get real about COPD flare-ups

AstraZeneca tells COPD patients to "Get Real" in new animated and non-animated hybrid TV ad. (AstraZeneca)

Animated ads aren’t unusual, but animated ads bursting into real life are different. And that's just what AstraZeneca wanted for its newly approved COPD medicine, Breztri, which is aiming to break through a crowded field.

The new direct-to-consumer TV ad urges patients to “Get Real” about their COPD and flare-ups, emphasizing that better breathing doesn’t make everything “fun and nice”.  The commercial begins with an animated character of a man leading the viewer from an ideal animated world with rainbows, unicorns and dancing animals, through a door to the real world.

But AstraZeneca wants the brand to stand out not just visually. Its message about flare-ups is designed to set Breztri apart, too.

The company wants to establish Breztri as a COPD product that enables better breathing but also targets episodes when symptoms suddenly worsen. While patients told AZ they often shrug off flare-ups as “bad day," exacerbated coughing attacks can potentially cause permanent lung damage, Domenick Fanelli, AZ executive director of inhaled respiratory marketing, said.

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“The animation is essentially engaging patients with respect to what they tell us…there’s this fantasy world that it’s simply about better breathing,” he said. “Then it brings them into the real world which is saying you can expect more—and you should be expecting more from your COPD medication.”

Breztri Aerosphere is a three-in-one inhaler granted FDA approval in July for COPD maintenance treatment. It's playing catch-up to competitor GlaxoSmithKline's triple medication Trelegy Ellipta which was approved in 2017.

The ad launched nationally on February 8. AstraZeneca's target audience is heavily invested in TV, Fanelli said, so the ad is running during targeted programs and channels—including most news hours from morning to prime time—to reach as many COPD patients as possible.

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“Ultimately, what we're trying to do is change the narrative between a [healthcare provider] and a patient, because most of the narrative was around better breathing," he said. "We’re now encouraging patients by introducing them to protection to have a different conversation with their provider."