DTC #FierceMadness comes down to Elite Eight, with ‘God,’ Superheroes and Aniston still in the hunt

basketball and bracket imagery
#FierceMadness DTC narrows to Elite Eight, voting for Final Four runs today through Tuesday at midnight.

The DTC #FierceMadness field narrowed to just eight this weekend, with hope beating out fear as the remaining “scare-tactic” ads went down to more inspirational campaigns. More than 750 ballots were cast in a round three that also saw celebrity spokespeople rise to the top.

Boehringer Ingelheim’s "Red Fish" Pradaxa campaign topped Novartis’ oft-noted “too scary” "Flooded Room" ad, with voters complimenting the simple but effective visuals of fish as red blood cells in the former. As one voter wrote, it was “elegant and educational. The only NOAC ad that helps people understand what the drug does.”

In corporate and disease awareness ads, Pfizer’s tribute to scientists, "Before it Became a Medicine," trumped Mylan’s intense peanut allergy anaphylaxis spot. While a few commenters thought the scariness was effective (“Brilliantly scary. It's like a mini horror movie,” one said), the majority preferred Pfizer’s encouraging message. As one ballot-caster summed it up, the Pfizer campaign "is upbeat and makes us all feel like we're on the same team. Allergy ad is unnecessarily dramatic.”

Also in the corporate bracket, Allergan’s female empowerment push "Actually She Can" bested the Big Bad Wolf from GlaxoSmithKline’s whooping cough warning in a closer 179-166 contest. Voters did like the powerful image of the wolf, but were edged out by the voters who chimed in with sentiments like “Way to go, girls!”

Another close battle in the autoimmune division came between Allergan's Linzess stop-motion ads and Takeda’s superhero comic book collaboration with Marvel for IBD. Superheroes prevailed, however, in the 234-210 contest, thanks to a “great campaign that uses the power of storytelling and superheroes to help kids feel comfortable with their IBD.”

Famous spokespeople also ruled in this round, with ads featuring actors Morgan Freeman and Jennifer Aniston pulling out the wins.

Freeman’s "Stand up to Cancer" push from Roche's Genentech dominated again, knocking off competing cancer awareness campaign "Ready. Raise. Rise." from Bristol-Myers Squibb in a 299-69 blowout. The victorious PSA garnered praise for its style, drawing comments such as “SU2C was just so compelling and beautifully done. I immediately went to get screened!” However, it seems again that Freeman is still the driving force, with many mentioning him specifically as the reason they chose the ad. As one voter emphatically noted, “'GOD' endorses your brand! Nuf said.”

Aniston’s work for Shire in its eyelove campaign prevailed in a close 199-187 matchup with Excedrin’s Migraine Simulator virtual reality work from GlaxoSmithKline. Several commenters mentioned Aniston as their motivating force, and also praised the work with comments like “Brave use of an A-list celebrity.”

In the only two brand-name against brand-name drug ad showdowns, J&J’s HIV treatment Prezcobix beat Allergan’s migraine and wrinkle buster Botox by a tally of 379-145. And in an extremely close 178-173 take-down, Takeda’s Entyvio "Bathroom Door" campaign just edged out Novartis' real psoriasis patients in the Cosentyx "See Me" effort.

Now, it's onto the Final Four, with voting beginning today and running through Tuesday at midnight ET. Grab a ballot and move your favorites into the next-to-last battle. Will the DTC #FieceMadness Final Four prove as unexpected as the group now squaring off in the NCAA basketball world? Check back Wednesday to find out.


Ad: Pradaxa “Red Fish”
Company: Boehringer Ingelheim
Boehringer Ingelheim’s swimming red fish as representative of red blood cells illustrated how those cells move and sometimes clot when traveling between the heart and brain.

Ad: “Stand Up to Cancer” PSA with Morgan Freeman
Company: Roche’s Genentech
Actor Morgan Freeman stood up with a cancer patient in this public service campaign sponsored by Genentech to drive people to get screened and get involved in prevention and clinical trials.

Corporate/Disease Awareness

Ad: “Before it Became a Medicine” corporate campaign
Company: Pfizer
Pfizer scientists took center stage in a corporate reputation effort that depicted the long and arduous process from idea to lifesaving drug, all through the eyes of a grateful patient.

Ad: “Actually She Can” female health awareness
Company: Allergan
Girl power stars in Allergan’s unbranded multimedia campaign with purple-haired spokes-character Violet, hashtags and emojis, all in support of women sharing information about healthcare, including contraceptive options.


Ad: “Superhero Comic Books” for IBD disease awareness
Company: Takeda 
Partnering with Marvel comics, Takeda created a new superhero and cast of characters to fight the good fight against inflammatory bowel disease in both digital and custom-published comic books.

Ad: Entyvio “Bathroom Doors”
Company: Takeda
Takeda took a different view for its new biologic IBD treatment Entyvio, with ads that showed what sufferers see most often—the inside of bathroom doors—while they’re missing out on fun or important life events.


Ad: “Eyelove” dry eye awareness
Company: Shire
Well-known actress Jennifer Aniston confesses to her eye drop addiction in Shire's unbranded campaign that targeted women who use drops several times a day.

Ad: Prezcobix “Wisdom”
Company: Johnson & Johnson Janssen
Janssen took real patients' words of wisdom and empowerment and, with the help of artist Sean Williams, transformed those words into stylized purple images of people.