Family ties: Boehringer's first TV ad for Ofev leans on loved ones' connections to IPF

In Boehringer Ingelheim’s first branded TV ad for its idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis treatment Ofev, the spotlight is not on the patient, but on a loved one. In ads begun last month, the son of an IPF patient narrates the commercial talking about his dad’s fight with IPF and how he inspires him.

The son, who is a boxer, says, “His IPF isn’t contagious, but the way he lives his life is. … Your battle for IPF isn’t just for you.”

Boehringer is shifting the focus to loved ones because its research found that patients with IPF who don’t fully understand the disease progression often choose not to treat their disease.

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“We want to change that and remind patients that they don’t fight IPF only for themselves, they also do it for the people they love,” Al Masucci, vice president of the IPF business unit at Boehringer, said in an email interview. “By choosing to treat IPF, patients can build memories and a legacy that they can pass on to their loved ones.”

The new campaign is currently only on TV, but it will expand to other media in the future, he said. Previous branded ads for Ofev have run in digital channels and on social media. Unbranded marketing has included patients and loved ones—such as an effort featuring former Yankees slugger Bernie Williams, whose father had IPF—primarily to drive awareness of the progressive lung disease.

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The new campaign strikes a sentimental tone with its goal to “illustrate the most important reason for talking to their doctor about the right treatment plan—family. We want to remind patients that there is so much to live for," Masucci said.

The FDA first approved Ofev in October, 2014, the same day as competitor Esbriet from Roche, and the battle for market share has proved fierce ever since. Boehringer recorded sales of €531 million for the first six months of 2018, a currency-adjusted increase of 35%, the company said.