The 'i's have it in new ad campaign for Shire’s dry eye treatment Xiidra

Shire’s first campaign for Xiidra is all about eyes and "i"s.

The first work for the dry eye disease treatment uses the "ii" in the drug’s name to create visual plays on words. The campaign subs the double i for single i in print, digital and social media ads--asking, "how's iit going?"--as well as in marketing materials for eyecare professionals. 

The trend continues throughout the work; the professionals' intro kit, for example, reads, "Niice to meet you." There's a drug helpline called "ask iiris," as well as a copay card named the "Xiidra iinsider." And the campaign--created by Shire's agency of record, Digitas Health--also includes a video game app called Bliip, a Pong-like game available in the iTunes store.

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“From the get-go we wanted to create a consumer brand that cut across both audiences, not just a brand for eyecare professionals and then another brand for consumers. We wanted to create a consumer brand with one voice that connects with those customers,” Victoria Noble, head of marketing for ophthamalics  at Shire, told FiercePharmaMarketing in an interview.

Collette Douaihy, senior vice president and group creative director at Digitas Health, said the opportunity to play off the double i in the name Xiidra makes for a fun, personal and memorable introduction to the brand.

“It’s the theme that keeps giving,” she said. “There are so many opportunities to message out and play with the double i’s and get to a very personal level with our target audiences.”

That target group for the multimedia campaign is women; they're not only proportionately more likely to be diagnosed with dry eye, but they also serve as family gatekeepers for health, Noble noted. 

Xiidra won the FDA's green light and launched late the following month. The branded campaign comes just weeks after Shire rolled out an unbranded dry eye awareness campaign called “eyelove,” which includes actress Jennifer Aniston as spokeswoman.

Shire is competing in the space with Allergan’s incumbent med Restasis, although the two treatments are approved for different indications. Xiidra is the first approved for specifically to treat dry eye, while Restasis is indicated for increasing tear production only. Allergan recently beefed up its sales force, DTC advertising and sampling programs to protect its market share against Shire’s entry.

“We’re the challenger in this space, so in order for us to make those connections, we needed to break through and be different and engage. We weren’t going to do that by being typical pharma,” Noble said.

- read more about the Xiidra U.S. launch

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