Pharma ups April TV spending for stuck-at-home viewers with AbbVie leading the way

watching TV
April saw a jump in pharma TV ad spending, with some companies adding COVID-19 support messages. (Getty Images)

Pharma's TV top spenders increased ad budgets in April, reaching out to stuck-at-home viewers and adding new messages about drug pricing support. The top 10 brands spent $183 million in national TV ads in April, up 17% from the March total of $156 million.

Part of the reason for increased spending is new commercials focused on COVID-19's impact. While not all drugmakers took to the airwaves to address patients' concerns, several did change ads to offer support and financial assistance programs.

AbbVie’s Humira easily topped the spenders’ list again—this time with $52.9 million and more than double the budget of its next closest competitor—and added COVID-19 support messages to three commercials already airing. Its new ads, in both psoriasis and Crohn’s disease, now end with an onscreen question about COVID-19 causing financial problems and voice-overs that say, “If you can’t afford your medicine, AbbVie may be able to help.” AbbVie added the same ending and offer of help to its already running Rinvoq commercial.

Sunovion added a more subtle reference to the difficult time caused by COVID-19, reworking the end of its Latuda ad for depression to say, “During this time, we’re here for you. For resources and co-pay savings options, visit Latuda.com.”

Novo Nordisk used a similar strategy, talking about its commitment to “keeping Ozempic available and affordable during these challenging times” in a new TV commercial ending that details its savings card.

April’s pharma spending seems to indicate that marketers are bucking the overall trend to cut TV ad spending, at least for now. Emarketer recently predicted that TV ad revenue will decrease by 22% to 29% in the first half of 2020. While the pharma industry may be more insulated than some other categories such as travel or retail, a prolonged economic shutdown could eventually affect every industry looking to trim expenses.

1. Humira
Movement:
Stayed same
What is it? AbbVie anti-inflammatory drug
Total estimated spending: $52.9 million (up from $25.2 million in March)
Number of spots: Eight (Four for arthritis/psoriasis, four for ulcerative colitis/Crohn's)
Biggest-ticket ad: “Body of Proof: Dog Walking” (est. $20.2 million)


2. Dupixent
Movement:
Not on list last month
What is it? Regeneron and Sanofi atopic dermatitis injection
Total estimated spending: $21.9 million
Number of spots: Three (Two for atopic dermatitis, one for asthma)
Biggest-ticket ad: “Du-More” (est. $11.5 million)


3. Descovy
Movement: Stayed same
What is it? Gilead Sciences next-gen PrEP HIV drug
Total estimated spending: $16.5 million (down from $18.8 million in March)
Number of spots: One
Biggest-ticket ad: “Prep Up”


4. Latuda
Movement:
Not on list last month
What is it? Sunovion Pharmaceuticals antipsychotic
Total estimated spending: $16.2 million
Number of spots: Two
Biggest-ticket ad: “Lauren's Story: Here for You" (est. $9.8 million)


5. Rexulti
Movement:
Stayed same
What is it? Otsuka and Lundbeck antipsychotic
Total estimated spending: $14.5 million (down from $15.4 million in March)
Number of spots: Two
Biggest-ticket ad: “I’m Fine” (est. $7.9 million)


6. Ozempic
Movement:
Up from No. 9
What is it? Novo Nordisk GLP-1 diabetes med
Total estimated spending: $13.3 million (up from $9.7 million in March)
Number of spots: Two
Biggest-ticket ad: “Musicians” (est. $8.2 million)


7. Eliquis
Movement:
Not on list last month
What is it? Pfizer and Bristol Myers Squibb next-gen anticoagulant
Total estimated spending: $12.7 million
Number of spots: Four
Biggest-ticket ad: “Travel” (est. $4.5 million)


8. Rinvoq
Movement:
Down from No. 4
What is it? AbbVie JAK inhibitor to treat rheumatoid arthritis
Total estimated spending: $12.4 million (down from $18.7 million in March)
Number of spots: Two
Biggest-ticket ad: “Your Mission: Paying for Your Medicine (est. $6.3 million)


9. Dovato
Movement:
Not on list last month
What is it? GlaxoSmithKline two-in-one HIV pill
Total estimated spending: $11.9 million
Number of spots: One
Biggest-ticket ad: “More to Me: Alphonso”


10. Skyrizi
Movement:
Down from No. 7
What is it? AbbVie IL-23 next-gen psoriasis treatment
Total estimated spending: $10.7 million (down from $11.8 million in March)
Number of spots: Three
Biggest-ticket ad: “Nothing is Everything” (est. $8.5 million)
 

 

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