See ya, Goodfella: #FierceMadness voters bounce Liotta, Tremfya and more in first-round play

With play-in winners chosen, the #FierceMadness ad tournament moves to Round 2. Vote now through Sunday. (FiercePharma)

With the first, play-in round of #FierceMadness done, so is one celebrity. Ray Liotta got canned by the animated Slow Turkey in the battle between two Pfizer Chantix ads. In an 84-64 vote, Liotta’s direct-to-camera smoking confessions lost out thanks to voters who thought the turkey's new direction was a “great change in campaign after years in the interview campaign style.”

Still, as with any March Madness game outcome, some fans are bound to be disappointed. Many of the voters who left comments loved Liotta—one called him “my paisan” while another joked, “Great to see Ray Liotta in this scenario. Hoping the next one parodies the last reel of GoodFellas with the helicopter scene.” (Spoiler: It’s a feverish day of illegal activity and cops for Liotta’s movie mobster character Henry Hill.)

The play-ins were head-to-head battles of treatments for four different conditions. The biggest margin win was in plaque psoriasis, in which Sun Pharma’s Ilumya beat J&J’s Tremfya 132-43. One commenter said Ilumya felt “more real, showing the flaking that occurs with plaque psoriasis. And it is optimistic and empowering.”

The closest contest, meanwhile, took place in hepatitis C, in which AbbVie’s Mavyret edged Gilead’s Epclusa 79-72. Some voters, though, were underwhelmed by both ads. “You couldn’t find two more generic commercials? Neither wins,” one person wrote in the comments.

In the migraine ad battle, Novartis and Amgen’s Aimovig topped Eli Lilly’s Emgality 86-61. One voter said, “This breaks the Pharma-mold of DTC by showing both positive and negative situations in life; all better than a migraine.”

With the four play-in winners now decided, #FierceMadness moves into Round 2 with 32 ad teams now competing to advance to the Sweet 16. Vote here through midnight on Sunday, and check back Monday to see which ads are moving on.

(Note: Although each ad has a seed number between 1 and 8, they are not ranked. Once the ads were determined in each bracket, the numbers were assigned randomly.)

Round 2 (Vote here)


(1) Repatha vs. (8) Ilumya 

Ad: Repatha "Emergency Worker Ghosts"
Company: Amgen
Happy family and dinner scenes are interrupted with flashing lights and sirens and the specters of emergency workers to help viewers imagine the dangers of sudden heart attack or stroke.

Ad: Ilumya "Everyday Flakes"
Company: Sun Pharma
The next-to-market IL-23 psoriasis drug promotes its "flake free" potential to relieve psoriasis symptoms.

(4) Spiriva vs. (5) Promius 

Ad: Spiriva Respimat "Bear Hug"
Company: Boehringer Ingelheim
Boehringer listened to patients who said asthma can feel like a crushing bear hug, bringing to life that imagery as a man tries to go about his daily life.

Ad: "My Skin Matters" for dermatological conditions
Company: Promius
Print and digital ads from Promius draw attention to a variety of skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and acne to help people love the skin they’re in.

(3) Triumeq vs. (6) Truvada 

Ad: Triumeq "Real Life with HIV"
Company: ViiV Healthcare
Five real HIV patients take center stage to talk about their diagnoses and lives in this realistic and modern view of life with HIV.

Ad: Truvada "On the Pill"
Company: Gilead Sciences
Gilead started with an awareness campaign for HIV with "honest" talk about prevention and moved on later in the year to Truvada brand ads with real patients who talk about being "On the Pill."

(2) Verzenio vs. (7) Neurocrine 

Ad: Verzenio "Relentless"
Company: Eli Lilly
In its first campaign for metastatic breast cancer drug Verzenio, Lilly showcases women with MBC living their best lives, because even though the disease is relentless, so are they.

Ad: "Talk About TD" for tardive dyskinesia awareness
Company: Neurocrine
The maker of Ingrezza introduced viewers to involuntary movement disorder tardive dyskinesia, a side effect of antipsychotic drugs.


(1) Enbrel vs. (8) Chantix 

Ad: Enbrel "Generations"
Company: Amgen
Enbrel brought the children of rheumatoid arthritis patients to the forefront in the campaign in which children, including Enbrel spokesman Phil Mickelson’s own kids, talk about how RA impacts their parent.

Ad: Chantix "Slow Turkey"
Company: Pfizer
Don’t worry about quitting smoking all at once, Pfizer encourages with this new ad. Quit the “slow turkey” way instead with Chantix.

(4) Trelegy vs. (5) Ozempic 

Ad: Trelegy "Easy as 1-2-3"
Company: GlaxoSmithKline
This ad uses a throwback soundtrack to Jackson 5’s “Easy as 1-2-3” to highlight Trelegy, a 3-in-1 inhaler medicine.

Ad: Ozempic "O it’s Magic"
Company: Novo Nordisk
Novo Nordisk revised the familiar, catchy ‘70s tune “It’s Magic,” using the refrain for its Type 2 diabetes drug Ozempic's debut with the new jingle, “Oh, oh, oh Ozempic.”

(3) Dupixent vs. (6) Xeomin 

Ad: Dupixent "No Matter What"
Companies: Sanofi and Regeneron
A real patient stars in the debut ad for Dupixent, with tiny insects crawling all over her hands and poison ivy vines snaking up around her ankles to simulate what it feels like to have severe eczema.

Ad: Xeomin "Later Haters"
Company: Merz
Merz Americas takes on the 800-pound gorilla in aesthetics, Allergan's Botox, with a campaign aimed at Xennials, defined as women on both sides of the millennial and Gen X lines.

(2) Keytruda vs. (7) Nuplazid 

Ad: Keytruda "Tru Stories"
Company: Merck
Patients tell the stories of their lung cancer and survival using Keytruda, with the latest ad also featuring an oncologist who talks along with his patient about success.

Ad: Nuplazid "Parkinson's Psychosis"
Company: Acadia
What began as an awareness campaign to draw attention to the potential for psychosis in Parkinson’s patients changed to branded work in 2018 with an older man hesitant to speak up about seeing and hearing things that weren’t there.


(1) Bayer vs. (8) Aimovig 

Ad: Bayer corporate ad "Americana"
Company: Bayer
This anthemic campaign puts heartland and hometown America in a forefront showcase of Bayer's now-broad portfolio of healthcare, farming and family products.

Ad: Aimovig "I Am Here"
Companies: Novartis and Amgen
A next-gen migraine treatment gets the full TV campaign debut with ads that push the value of being fully present for all of life’s ups and downs.

(4) Vraylar vs. (5) Fasenra 

Ad: Vraylar "House of Cards"
Company: Allergan
Allergan highlighted the manic side of depression in this first of a series of TV ads depicting bipolar patients frantically taking on task after task, only to have the camera lens widen on the precariousness of the situation.

Ad: Fasenra "Docs for Eosinophils"
Company: AstraZeneca
TV doctors address a pretend TV show audience in a campaign that introduces the concept of eosinophilic asthma.

(3) Mucinex vs. (6) Excedrin Extra Strength 

Ad: Mucinex "#SuperSickMonday"
Company: RB
The Mucinex snot monster played off the Super Bowl, running ads before and after, to talk about “Super Sick Monday,” an actual phenomenon in which millions of people call in sick the day after the game.

Ad: Excedrin Extra Strength "Name Your Headache"
Company: GlaxoSmithKline
Custom boxes spell out reasons for the worst headaches like “adulting” and “bad date” in a social media and in-store campaign.

(2) Eisai vs. (7) Dermira

Ad: "This is MBC" awareness for metastatic breast cancer
Company: Eisai
Eisai captured striking photographs of MBC patients in a digital and event exhibit, all with a water connection, because “living with MBC is like water, it’s always there.”

Ad: "Check Your Sweat" awareness for hyperhydrosis
Company: Dermira
Dermira prepped for its Qbrexza launch with ads showcasing the tactics to avoid embarrassment used by people with excessive underarm sweating, like keeping their arms down and changing shirts.


(1) Belsomra vs. (8) Mavyret 

Ad: Belsomra "Distractions"
Company: Merck
Belsomra replaced its furry animal-like words campaign with a simpler approach to sleep issues, this time showing a woman dealing with sleep interruptions like lights turning on and phone notifications.

Ad: Mavyret "8 Weeks"
Company: AbbVie
AbbVie highlights Mavyret’s time-to-cure advantage over competitors.

(4) Ofev vs. (5) Endo

Ad: Ofev "Family Ties"
Company: Boehringer Ingelheim
The boxer son of an idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis patient narrates the commercial, talking about his dad’s fight with IPF and how he inspires him.

Ad: "Crooked Veggies" for Peyronie’s disease awareness
Company: Endo
Men stare at unusually shaped fruits and vegetables as a symbolic way to talk about the fact that while “guys come in all shapes and sizes,” sometimes an erection with a marked curve or bump may be Peyronie’s disease.

(3) Orilissa vs. (6) Linzess 

Ad: Orilissa "Or I Can"
Company: AbbVie
Women with endometriosis weigh their options in this play-on-words campaign. Instead of toughing out painful symptoms, they choose the “Or” option—in this case Orilissa.

Ad: Linzess "Yes Linzess"
Companies: Allergan and Ironwood
This TV commercial shows a G-rated camera angle view of IBS-C sufferers in the bathroom, followed by a fist pump as they later celebrate success.

(2)  Novartis vs. (7) Vanda 

Ad: "Trash-Talking Wrestler" for carcinoid syndrome awareness
Company: Novartis
A miniaturized WWF-type wrestler pounds on a bare stomach in this ad to highlight the pain of a rare condition called carcinoid syndrome, caused by hormones released by tumors.

Ad: "Akathisia" awareness
Company: Vanda Pharmaceuticals
Vanda introduced viewers to the term akathisia, a side effect of some schizophrenia drugs that can compel sufferers to crave constant motion.