Merck KGaA’s U.S. unit launches first-ever TV ad with MS drug Mavenclad in the spotlight

After two years working to educate physicians about Mavenclad, EMD Serono is ready for its TV premiere.

The multiple sclerosis drug’s first-ever TV campaign is also a first TV ad for EMD Serono, the U.S. and Canadian pharma arm of Merck KGaA. The just-launched DTC campaign, "I'm Ready," spotlights Mavenclad’s unique oral dosing schedule.

Instead of the infusions and daily pills already in the MS market, Mavenclad is a short-course oral therapy that breaks treatment down into cycles of 4-5 days for two consecutive months for two years. That pans out to 16-20 treatment days over the two-year course. It’s approved to treat the relapsing-remitting and secondary progressive forms of the disease in adult patients.

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The 90-second ad explains the dosing details while showing active patients traveling through an airport, teaching at school or working their jobs. The people in the ads are actors, not patients, because the pandemic kiboshed EMD Serono’s plan to use patient ambassadors.

The TV ad will run on connected platforms—Hulu, Roku, Amazon and others—to reach targeted MS audiences. Digital marketing, including search and display ads and social media posts, link to resources and more information.

“It’s not something that you’d find on the Super Bowl or Sunday Night Football. It’s much more about targeting the channels and content consumed by people with MS and their loved ones,” said Venkat Thiruvallur, EMD Serono’s senior VP and head of neurology and immunology in the U.S.

RELATED: Novartis' first Kesimpta ad push offers break from relapsing MS 'drama'

Hypertargeting not only allocates media dollars more wisely, but also aims to find the right patients in a competitive MS space where older therapies co-exist with new treatments in a wide variety of approved indications and dosing regimens.

As Thiruvallur said, “There is no one-size-fits-all therapy in MS.”

To that end, many MS drugmakers are running DTC campaigns to show patients where they do fit. From Roche’s Ocrevus and Novartis’ Kesimpta with national network TV ads to targeted TV campaigns like Mavenclad, marketers are looking to stand out from the crowd.

For now that crowd is led by Ocrevus, which pulled in $4.6 billion in 2020. Mavenclad sales totaled €530 million last year and €147 million in the first quarter of 2021, a 26% increase year over year, Merck KGaA reported.