Pradaxa’s 'Red Fish' go to the aquarium in new Boehringer campaign

Boehringer Ingelheim's latest work for Pradaxa builds on it ongoing "Red Fish" campaign.

The award-winning computer-generated red fish of Pradaxa just keep swimming—this time through an aquarium in new TV work for Boehringer Ingelheim’s next-gen anticoagulant.

Now a year into the "Red Fish" campaign, Boehringer was pleased with the feedback and effectiveness of the fish-as-blood-clot imagery, but the German drugmaker decided it was time for an evolution of the AFib campaign. The new DTC work, created by GSW, moves away from a simple all-white background for the CGI fish and gives them the blue-water backdrop of an aquarium, while also adding in visitors walking along and watching.

“We obviously still wanted to keep the red fish because that has been the key to success with its very simple way of describing a complex problem that resonates with consumers,” David Edwards, Boehringer executive director of cardiovascular marketing, said in an interview. “We’ve evolved it in way that infuses it with a bit more, I guess you could say, 'humanity,' as it was just the fish before.”

With a couple in focus in the ad, Pradaxa not only adds that human element, but also a subtle note of the woman leading the man, Edwards said, as a way to highlight women more in the communications. Women have AFib at about the same rate as men, but through marketing research, they've also been proven as household gatekeepers and purchase influencers.

Physician feedback for the campaign has also been positive, Edwards said, with doctors noting an uptick in patients asking about the treatment represented by the red fish or wanting to discuss the AFib treatment “with the reversal.” Pradaxa is the only med in its class with an FDA-approved reversal agent, which may ease some patients' and doctors' worries about the potentially fatal bleeding side effects that come along with the new-age drugs. As in the original "Red Fish" ad, agent Praxbind is not mentioned by name, but rather referred to as the only emergency reversal treatment just for Pradaxa.

The red fish imagery also appears in Pradaxa communications with healthcare providers, as well as TV, print and digital consumer-facing work, and it will likely be around for some time. Edwards said this campaign will run through the end of the year, but he expects that thanks to its success, it will continue to evolve beyond that.

Pradaxa is in a three-way brand battle with Johnson & Johnson’s Xarelto and Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Eliquis, with Eliquis recently taking the market-share crown from Xarelto and coming out on top in a cost-comparison study using Medicare data. All three meds are up against the generic warfarin, which still notches a high percentage of patient use, meaning there's potential for any of the meds to ultimately win the race.