#FierceMadness is back! Pick your favorite pharma ads in a tournament-style battle royale

Vote in the four #FierceMadness play-in games before Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET.

If it’s March, it must be #FierceMadness, FiercePharma’s annual take on the March Madness NCAA basketball tournament and bracket mania—with a pharma twist. This year we’re once again pitting pharma's advertising campaigns against one another on the road to the Final Four and ultimate championship.

Here's how it works: Print yourself a bracket, choose a winner for each contest, and tweet us a photo of your completed picks before Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET using the hashtag #FierceMadness. That’ll also be the deadline for voting on the four play-in games that’ll help us narrow the field to 32 ads that'll kick off play on Wednesday. After that, we'll have new matchups for you to vote on each Monday and Wednesday through April 8 until we crown a victor!

Most of the campaigns in the running include a TV ad component, and there's a reason for that. While TV has long been a staple in Big Pharma media plans, it has also become the price to play for smaller companies—especially when taking on Big Pharma drugs. The other reason for more recent TV ads from smaller pharma companies is to build widespread awareness or draw attention to a rare condition or treatment. The top 20 global pharma companies are well represented in the contest, but so are smaller contenders such as Sun Pharma, with a next-gen entry in the crowded psoriasis category; and Neurocrine, which is looking to introduce people to the movement disorder tardive dyskinesia. Think about it—could Merz launch its Botox competitor Xeomin without TV?

Of course, everyone will have differing opinions on what makes a good—or bad—pharma ad, so when voting, please let us know why you picked the way you did. Was it edgy creative or a serious message for a great product? Maybe it was so bad it was good, or it just made you a laugh? We'd love for you to cheer the champs and dis the duds in the comments section on the poll form. Oh, and be a good sport—only one vote per round please.

          Click here to download the bracket

Before we get to the big contest Wednesday, we have eight play-in contenders up for vote. Cast your ballots here for the play-in winners in each region, and we'll be back with the four winners in the Wednesday issue of FiercePharmaMarketing. And once again, don't forget to check back every Monday and Wednesday through April 8 to vote on the next round! 

Let the Madness begin!

— Beth Snyder Bulik (Twitter) and Carly Helfand (Twitter)

Round 1 (Vote here)


(8) Tremfya vs. (8) Ilumya

Ad: Tremfya "I'm Ready"
Company: Johnson & Johnson   
The first-to-market IL-23 psoriasis drug took on blockbuster Humira from AbbVie in this ad that also features red rashes that spell out messages.

Ad: Ilumya "Everyday Flakes"
Company: Sun Pharma
The next-to-market IL-23 psoriasis drug promotes its "flake free" potential to relieve psoriasis symptoms.


(8) Chantix 1 vs. (8) Chantix 2

Ad: Chantix "My Favorite Role with Ray Liotta"
Company: Pfizer
Tough-guy actor Ray Liotta starred in a series of commercials for smoking cessation drug Chantix talking about his struggle to quit and how he finally did it.

Ad: Chantix "Slow Turkey"
Company: Pfizer
Don’t worry about quitting smoking all at once, Pfizer encourages with this new ad. Quit the “slow turkey” way instead with Chantix.


(8) Emgality vs. (8) Aimovig

Ad: Emgality "Imagine"
Company: Eli Lilly
A mom enjoys a migraine-free day with her daughter in this first work for the CGRP drug. The ad was directed by Robert Stromberg, who has worked on blockbuster movies including “Avatar” and “Maleficent.”

Ad: Aimovig "I Am Here"
Company: Novartis and Amgen
A next-gen migraine treatment gets the full TV campaign debut with ads that push the value of being fully present for all of life’s ups and downs.


(8) Epclusa vs. (8) Mavyret

Ad: Epclusa "Your Kind of Cure"
Company: Gilead Sciences
This is the first work from Gilead for its pangenotypic and lower-priced med for hepatitis C, Eplcusa.

Ad: Mavyret "8 Weeks"
Company: AbbVie
AbbVie highlights Mavyret’s time-to-cure advantage over competitors.

And don't forget: Come back Wednesday to vote on the play-in winners and these 28 other pharma ad campaigns:


Ad: Verzenio "Relentless"
Company: Eli Lilly
In its first campaign for metastatic breast cancer drug Verzenio, Lilly showcases women with MBC living their best lives, because even though the disease is relentless, so are they.

Ad: "Talk About TD" for Dyskinesia awareness
Company: Neurocrine
The maker of Ingrezza introduced viewers to involuntary movement disorder tardive dyskinesia, a side effect of antipsychotic meds.

Ad: Spiriva Respimat "Bear Hug"
Company: Boehringer Ingelheim
Boehringer listened to patients who said asthma can feel like a crushing bear hug, bringing to life that imagery as a man tries to go about his daily life.

Ad: "My Skin Matters" for dermatological conditions
Company: Promius
Print and digital ads from Promius draw attention to a variety of skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and acne to help people love the skin they’re in.

Ad: Triumeq "Real Life with HIV"
Company: ViiV Healthcare
Five real HIV patients take center stage to talk about their diagnoses and lives in this realistic and modern view of life with HIV.

Ad: Truvada "On the Pill"
Company: Gilead Sciences
Gilead started with an awareness campaign for HIV with "honest" talk about prevention and moved on later in the year to Truvada brand ads with real patients who talk about being "On the Pill."

Ad: Repatha "Emergency Worker Ghosts"
Company: Amgen
Happy family and dinner scenes are interrupted with flashing lights and sirens and the spectres of emergency workers to help viewers imagine the danger of sudden heart attack or stroke.


Ad: Keytruda "Tru Stories"
Company: Merck
Patients tell the stories of their lung cancer and survival using Keytruda, with the latest ad also featuring an oncologist who talks along with his patient about success.

Ad:  Nuplazid "Parkinson's Psychosis"
Company: Acadia
What began as an awareness campaign to draw attention to the potential for psychosis in Parkinson’s patients changed to branded work in 2018 with an older man hesitant to speak up about seeing and hearing things that weren’t there.

Ad: Trelegy "Easy as 1-2-3"
Company: GlaxoSmithKline
This ad uses a throwback soundtrack to Jackson 5’s “Easy as 1-2-3” to highlight Trelegy, a 3-in-1 inhaler medicine.

Ad: Ozempic "O it’s Magic"
Company: Novo Nordisk
Novo Nordisk revised the familiar, catchy ‘70s tune “It’s Magic,” using the refrain for its Type 2 diabetes med Ozempic's debut with the new jingle, “Oh, oh, oh Ozempic.”

Ad: Dupixent "No Matter What"
Company: Sanofi and Regeneron
A real patient stars in the debut ad for Dupixent, with tiny insects crawling all over her hands and poison ivy vines snaking up around her ankles to simulate what it feels like to have severe eczema.

Ad: Xeomin "Later Haters"
Company: Merz
Merz Americas takes on the 800-pound gorilla in aesthetics, Allergan's Botox, with a campaign aimed at Xennials, defined as women on both sides of the millennial and Gen X lines.

Ad: Enbrel "Generations"
Company: Amgen
Enbrel brought the children of rheumatoid arthritis patients to the forefront in the campaign where children, including Enbrel spokesman Phil Mickelson’s own kids, talk about how RA impacts their parent.


Ad: "This is MBC" awareness for metastatic breast cancer
Company: Eisai
Eisai capture striking photographs of MBC patients in a digital and event exhibit, all with a water connection because, “living with MBC is like water, it’s always there.”

Ad: "Check Your Sweat" awareness for hyperhydrosis
Company: Dermira
Dermira prepped for its Qbrexza launch with ads showcasing the tactics to avoid embarrassment used by people with excessive underarm sweating, like keeping their arms down and changing shirts.

Ad: Vyralar "House of Cards"
Company: Allergan
Allergan highlighted the manic side of depression in this first of a series of TV ads depicting bipolar patients frantically taking on task after task, only to have the camera lens widen on the precariousness of the situation.

Ad: Fasenra "Docs for Eosinophils"
Company: AstraZeneca
TV doctors address a pretend TV show audience in a campaign that introduces the concept of eosinophilic asthma.

Ad: Mucinex "#SuperSickMonday"
Company: RB
The Mucinex snot monster played off the Super Bowl, running ads before and after, to talk about “Super Sick Monday,” an actual phenomenon where millions of people call in sick the day after the game.

Ad: Excedrin Extra Strength "Name Your Headache"
Company: GlaxoSmithKline
Custom boxes spell out reasons for the worst headaches like “adulting” and “bad date” in a social media and in-store campaign.

Ad: Bayer corporate ad "Americana"
Company: Bayer
This anthemic campaign puts heartland and hometown America in a forefront showcase of Bayer's now broad portfolio of healthcare, farming and family products.


Ad: "Trash-Talking Wrestler" for Carcinoid Syndrome awareness
Company: Novartis
A miniaturized WWF-type wrestler pounds on a bare stomach in this ad to highlight the pain of a rare condition called carcinoid syndrome, caused by hormones released by tumors.

Ad: "Akathisia" awareness
Company: Vanda Pharmaceuticals
Campaign: Akathisia
Vanda introduced viewers to the term akathisia, a side effect of some schizophrenia drugs that can compel sufferers to crave constant motion.

Ad: Ofev "Family Ties"
Company: Boehringer Ingelheim
The boxer son of an idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis patient narrates the commercial, talking about his dad’s fight with IPF and how he inspires him.

Ad: "Crooked Veggies" for Peyronie’s disease awareness
Company: Endo
Men stare at unusually shaped fruits and vegetables as a symbolic way to talk about the fact that while “guys come in all shapes and sizes,” sometimes an erection with a marked curve or bump may be Peyronie’s disease.

Ad: Orilissa "Or I Can"
Company: AbbVie
Women with endometriosis weigh their options in this play-on-words campaign. Instead of toughing out painful symptoms, they choose the “Or” option—in this case Orilissa.

Ad: Linzess "Yes Linzess"
Company: Allergan and Ironwood
This TV commercial shows a G-rated camera angle view of IBS-C sufferers in the bathroom, followed by a fist pump as they later celebrate success.

Ad: Belsomra "Distractions"
Company: Merck
Belsomra replaced its furry animal-like words campaign with a simpler approach to sleep issues, this time showing a woman dealing with sleep interruptions like lights turning on and phone notifications.