Endo pivots its Dupuytren's campaign from John Elway to a patient-led pitch

Endo's move to real patients brings a new level of diversity—both in patients and in types of contractures—to its Dupuytren’s campaign. (Endo)

Forget John Elway. Endo is looking to everyday patients to lead its refreshed Dupuytren’s contracture (DC) campaign.

Endo tapped the former Denver Broncos quarterback to help lead its “Facts on Hand” awareness campaign back in 2019, and it was “tremendously successful for us,” said Dayna Sracic, senior director of consumer marketing at Endo.

Now, though, it's time to go in a new direction, Sracic said—and pivoting toward patients seemed a natural progression.

“We did over 65 hours of in-depth interviews with patients directly who had been diagnosed and who had been treated or untreated, and what we learned was that, while the [Elway] campaign raised awareness and helped get diagnosis, it didn’t lead to specific information around treatment options, and when to treat,” Sracic explained.

The disease causes collagen buildup in the hands, forcing fingers into a bent position. Endo sells the injectable drug Xiaflex for Dupuytren’s contracture, as well as—more recently Peyronie's disease—where Endo made a marketing splash with its bent carrot campaign. The drug brought home $316 million in 2020.

In 2019, the campaign used TV ads and a website featuring videos of Elway talking about his journey, along with others featuring pro golfer Tim Herron, who had been a spokesman for the awareness effort before Elway joined up.

This latest iteration aims to bring to light people's hesitations about treatment and to correct misconceptions that may prevent many from seeking it. It also spotlights the simple “Tabletop Test,” in which you put your hand, palm down, on a table to see whether it lies flat. If it doesn't, you may have a contracture that could use treatment.

TV ads for the campaign, which started their run this week, focus on a group of patients and a doctor sitting around a table. They aim to show in a simple but powerful way what the disease can do to someone’s hands.

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With its research, Endo found that while patients were getting a diagnosis—a key first step and win for the campaign—they were being told to “watch and wait” to see whether the disease progressed, Sracic said. They were not getting a clear direction on treatment plans from their doctors.

This, Sracic said, can lead to an almost “complacent” approach to the disease, where patients in fact get comfortable with their hands and their limitations, and they find “workarounds” for their daily activities.

Meanwhile, their disease continues to progress—and then they find themselves with a more severe contracture, struggling with treatment decisions much further down the disease’s path.

The new campaign is set up to tap into the authenticity of real patients and aims to get past this “watch and wait” complacency.

It also opened the campaign up to a more diverse range of people and forms of the condition. "There is something very powerful about highlighting these individuals and their stories," Sracic said, "and it allows us to show the diversity here: not just men and women, but a broad range of ethnicities and, most importantly, the diversity of contractures.

"When you look at the ads and the images, it's really powerful for the DC community to see people with the condition like them, as they really don't see it very often."

Endo wouldn’t talk about the campaign's budget—past or future—but said it would be tracking responses to the ads and visits to its website. Corresponding social media posts are planned for Facebook and Twitter, and, in a first for Endo, Instagram, which it aims to tap by mid-2022.

Social media have proven “a great way to reach” this audience, Sracic added, calling Instagram an exciting new platform for the company. She's hoping the new push will yield the high-end engagement Endo saw across social media last year.