Novo Nordisk brings on comedian Billy Gardell for Ozempic reality series

Actor and comedian Billy Gardell and fitness guru Dolvett Quince work out as part of Novo Nordisk's Type 2 transformation online reality series. (Novo Nordisk)

Novo Nordisk’s new reality series about Type 2 diabetes features comedian Billy Gardell, best known for his male lead role on the TV show “Mike and Molly.” Gardell and another Type 2 diabetes patient, Jane Austin, star in the series, showing how they undertook Novo’s six-month challenge with use of the company's GLP-1 treatment Ozempic and supported lifestyle changes.

“My Type 2 Transformation” follows the two from their first injection of Ozempic through six months of individual healthcare education, exercise, diet changes and life coaching. And now, Novo Nordisk is extending the program to all Type 2 diabetes patients who tune in online. The downloadable content includes exercise guru Dolvett Quince’s D-fit workout for Type 2 patients, recipes and video tips from chef Franklin Becker—who also lives with Type 2 diabetes—and advice from life coach Marlene Boas on how to stay on track.

“The whole notion was, 'how do we create an expert series where we bring in people to see their results at the end of the day and hear through their journey, but also offer all of this free out to people who have Type 2 diabetes and specifically helping those who are taking Ozempic?'” Jeremy Shepler, who heads up Novo's injectable GLP-1 portfolio, said. “We wanted to be very real about the challenges and the trial and tribulations as well as the successes.”

RELATED: Got tech ideas for diabetes? Novo wants you for its crowdsourcing challenge

The pharma company searched for a year to find Gardell, holding out for the right fit. It was important to find someone newly diagnosed who would just be starting on Ozempic so Novo could “show people what they could expect,” Shepler said.

Novo Nordisk also wanted to make sure exercise played a key role in the series because diet and food changes are more commonly or easily addressed for patients. Novo heard from some patients that they were too embarrassed to even go to a store to try on workout clothing, and so taking a cue from popular Beachbody workouts like P90X and Insanity, they asked former “The Biggest Loser” trainer Quince to create an at-home program for people living with Type 2 diabetes.

Gardell, whose father had recently died, was dedicated to making lifestyle changes so he could be around for his wife and son and was heartfelt in his intention to help other people, Shepler noted.

“Part of it is helping the broader population of people living with Type 2 diabetes, but we’re also not shy to say part of this is another way to get the word out about Ozempic beyond a 90-second TV commercial or a banner ad that we feel can be empowering, motivating and compelling for patients to want to talk to their doctor about it,” Shepler said.

RELATED: Pharma TV ads get groovy with '70s rock soundtrack proliferation

Novo Nordisk is continuing Ozempic’s DTC campaign, begun last fall, which includes TV ads that use the tune from ‘70s hit pop song “Magic” by Pilot. The ads replace the key refrain—“Oh, oh, oh, it’s magic”—to “Oh, oh, oh, Ozempic.”