There’s a new owl in town in the OTC allergy drug battle. The owl is Sanofi Consumer Healthcare’s new monocled spokescharacter starring in launch TV ads for former prescription allergy med Xyzal. Xyzal was approved for OTC use last month.
Three Xyzal TV spots—one translated into Spanish—feature the owl speaking with a British accent talking about the “wise” use of Xyzal for allergies. In a fourth, the spokes-owl promotes Children’s Xyzal. The tagline on the ads, which launched earlier this month, is “be wise all, take Xyzal.” Sanofi explained the owl in a email to FiercePharma: "Owls are nocturnal animals that are known for being wise, so ‘Nigel the Xyzal Wise Owl’ seemed like a perfect character to educate allergy sufferers about this brand," which offers 24-hour relief.
The OTC allergy market is highly competitive, with many brands spending on mass-media TV ads. Real-time TV ad tracker iSpot.tv data shows 24 different brands have aired national TV ads in the allergy, cold and flu category in the past month, spending an estimated $65 million. Spring is, of course, a prime advertising month for allergy brands, with most going dark in the winter months.
Sanofi has increased focus on OTC in the past few years, most recently completing a swap with Boehringer Ingelheim that traded Sanofi’s animal health division for BI’s consumer health business. With the move, Sanofi bolstered its position in the global consumer health; it now holds a 4.6% share of the worldwide market.
It's not the company's first time converting brands to OTC, though. Sanofi's U.S. portfolio already includes prescription-to-OTC allergy brands Allegra and Nasacort.
"The FDA approval of Xyzal builds on our heritage of successful Rx-to-OTC switches, and adds another trusted option to our existing portfolio of OTC allergy medications," Robert Long, the head of North America Consumer Healthcare at Sanofi, said in a statement.