Just breathe: Boehringer Ingelheim's latest COPD campaign centers on 'inhaleability'

Boehringer Ingelheim
BI's new campaign will run in digital and at point-of-care. (Boehringer Ingelheim)

Taking a deep breath can be hard for COPD patients. The irony is, that's exactly what they often need to do to release their medicine from inhalers. That's why Boehringer Ingelheim’s latest ad campaign for Stiolto Respimat centers on “inhaleability.”

The made-up word resonates with patients and physicians who, when shown the concept, instantly understood what the Boehringer marketing team meant. Stiolto Respimat delivers medicine as a slow-moving mist, a differentiator in the COPD market where competing dry powder inhalers require patients to inhale quickly and deeply.

“Through research, we found this concept of ‘inhaleability’ caused an a-ha moment. We knew we hit on something when we didn’t need to spell out what inhaleability meant, we didn’t have to define it. Both physicians and patients alike, they just got it,” Jared Kurtz, executive director of respiratory marketing at BI, said. 

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The Inhaleability campaign will run in digital and at point-of-care, aimed at people living with COPD and the physicians who treat them, he said. FCB Health is the agency on the campaign.

“What’s so interesting about digital is that new ways to reach your intended audience always pop up. Something you weren’t even aware of last week suddenly presents itself and we have an entirely new way to communicate with people,” Kurtz said, adding that while people living with COPD tend to skew older than some other disease states, digital is “still a very important means of reaching” a group that is on the internet and using digital “more than you might think.”

Stiolto Respimat is a two-drug combination (tiotropium bromide & olodaterol) approved to treat COPD and part of BI’s portfolio of treatments for the disease, which also includes blockbuster Spiriva, Striverdi, Atrovent and Berodual.

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While sales of COPD drugs have dropped recently with increases in generic competition, BI's still-substantial inhaler sales led to the recent opening of a new inhaler plant in Spain, which itself followed soon after the company added production lines to plants in Germany. The expansions brought BI’s recent investments in the Respimat inhaler to about €225 million.