Big Pharma hits another ad-spending high in 2015, thanks to Novo, Valeant and more

Throw another ad spending title on pharma’s growing pile.

Advertising Age’s annual ranking of the 200 leading national advertisers in the U.S. found that pharma industry spending rose more than any other category, increasing overall by 15.6% last year.

And it was way ahead of the rest, too. Travel came in second at 10.1%, while the apparel industry came in third with total ad spending rising by 6.9%. Spending across all categories increased almost unanimously; only the food category dropped, down 2.7%.

And on Ad Age’s top 10 list of the fastest-growing spenders for the year, half were pharma companies. Novo Nordisk ranked highest of those at No. 4 with a 195% spending increase year-over-year to reach $261 million. Valeant Pharmaceuticals was No. 5 with an 88% increase to $441 million, followed by GlaxoSmithKline at No. 6 with a 56% increase to $948 million in ad spending.

Novo hiked its spending partly because of new competition for its GLP-1 diabetes drug Victoza and its newly launched basal insulin Tresiba. Valeant laid out big money for its toe-fungus med Jublia, while GSK has been pushing its new suite of respiratory meds as it tries to build up sales in advance of copycat competition for top-selling Advair.

Meanwhile, Sanofi's spending rose 47% to $901 million to nab it the No. 9 spot, and Gilead Sciences was No. 10 with a 36% spending increase, up to $391 million. Sanofi was busy launching its basal insulin Toujeo--a head-to-head Tresiba competitor--and Gilead backed up its hep C drugs in the face of new launches in that field.

Ad Age Datacenter estimates companies’ total U.S. spending by combining measured media and unmeasured spending.

Ad Age highlighted Bristol-Myers Squibb specifically in its coverage, pointing to the $126 million spent on its immuno-oncology drug Opdivo alone, which just this week scored a breakthrough designation from the FDA in advanced bladder cancer. The magazine noted that Opdivo measured media spending increased 88% to $419 million, based on tracking data from Kantar Media.

All that pharma spending is pushing healthcare marketing at ad agencies, the article noted. “Pharma spending is good news for agencies," its authors wrote, noting that healthcare marketing was the fastest-growing discipline last year for agencies, whose U.S. healthcare-related revenue jumped 8.7%.

- read Ad Age article

Special Report: The top 10 advertisers in Big Pharma

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