J&J matches Stelara's 'Bold' message to the Olympic spirit in TV media buy during Tokyo games

Olympic torch image
Johnson & Johnson bought TV time during the Olympics highlighting its campaign built on IBD patient insights dealing with the constant "lurking" disease. (Getty Images)

Johnson & Johnson’s “Bold” Stelara campaign found a new audience during the televised Olympics. Its strategy? Match athletic perseverance with its message of strength for people living with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

The ad buy served as a two-for-one for J&J’s Janssen—not only does the Stelara message mirror the spirit of the Games, but the ad also found the Stelara target audience in the demographics of Olympic TV viewers.

“The stories of perseverance related to the Games couldn’t be more timely and aligned with how we want to empower patients to take control their disease, so it was a great opportunity,” Anthony Fernandez, VP of marketing for immunology at Janssen, said.

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While the commercial initially made its debut last summer, the real daily moments in the TV ad—where people turn to the camera and push back on lurking symptoms, saying “Back off, UC” or “Not now, Crohn’s”—still resonate with real patients, he said.

The work is built on the patient insight that inflammatory bowel disease is a constant presence that is ready to ambush at any time. Fernandez said, adding “good campaigns are built off of powerful insights.” Janssen intends to continue to leverage that “pushing back and taking control” theme to reach both Crohn’s and UC patients and healthcare providers, he said.

The IL-12 and IL-23 inhibitor was first approved in 2009 to treat psoriasis, added a Crohn’s disease indication in 2016 and more recently won approval in ulcerative colitis in late 2019.

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Despite Stelara’s age, Janssen is “incredibly enthusiastic about the future of Stelara. We’re continuing to invest in new clinical outcomes for Stelara even though it’s a little bit further on,” Fernandez said.

Last month at the European Crohn’s and Colitis Organization Congress, for instance, Janssen reported three-year data for ulcerative colitis showing the long-term staying power of the drug.

J&J's Stelara sales topped $4.4 billion for the first six months of 2021, a 26% increase year over year. It reported an overall 17% gain in immunology driven in part by Stelara, noting its U.S. share gains of “roughly 4 points in Crohn's disease and nearly 8 points in ulcerative colitis.”