PhRMA's big-spending image campaign has hit $20M, and new spots are rolling out

PhRMA pairs patients and researchers in next phase of ad campaign to bolster the industry's image.

Pharma industry trade group PhRMA is making good on its promise to spend tens of millions on a new ad push this year. So far this year, the tab is up to $20 million on its "Go Boldly" television commercials, according to data from real-time TV ad tracker

Phase two of the high-dollar industry advertising campaign—aimed at no less than rehabbing pharma's reputation amid the still-brewing pricing controversy—began last month, with a "Together" theme that highlights the link between patients and drug researchers. While the two groups don't actually interact much outside of clinical trials, PhRMA’s series of ads ties together the stories of one patient and one researcher in each of several diseases.

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Rolled out last week, the latest ad focuses on multiple sclerosis and follows May ads featuring patient-pharma pairs talking about Alzheimer’s disease, cancer or heart disease. Each TV spot juxtaposes the patient and researcher expressing similar or complementary thoughts and hopes.

In the Alzheimer’s commercial, for instance, Alzheimer’s patient Brian and researcher Samantha both start out by saying: “When I look in the mirror every day …” Brian then says, “I think, Is today going to be the day that we find a cure?” while Samantha says, “I think about how much I can do to change people’s lives. That helps me keep going to cure this.”

The Together series is meant to complement the more general Go Boldly slate of ads. There are three so far, beginning with “Do Not Go Gentle” the first TV ad of the campaign, first released in January, followed by “Cells.” Just last month, the third ad, “New World,” made its debut to highlight the new world of science, including immunotherapies and personalized medicine.

Even more diseases will be featured in the coming months, said Holly Campbell, senior director of communications at PhRMA, including hepatitis C, Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), depression, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, HIV/AIDS, breast cancer, and organ transplant rejection. Not every condition will run as a TV ads, she said, but all will appear in print, digital and out-of-home work.

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“For us, the Together Series is really important because it spotlights an all-too-often overlooked relationship, and that is the direct link between biopharmaceutical researchers and the patients whose lives are positively impacted by the medicine,” Campbell said.

While the mainstream media push for Go Boldly focuses on innovative science in pharma labs around the country—and now the patients helped by it—rather than hot-button topics like pricing and government oversight, the overall campaign also includes two separate public affairs initiatives that are event- and digital-driven to address the policy and pricing side of the pharma business.

Both the Value Collaborative and the New Era of Medicine “further highlight the bold scientific advances and policies needed to sustain this innovation as well as legal and regulatory barriers to furthering the private sector move toward a value-driven health care system,” Campbell said.