ViiV starts 'Moving Forward' into first branded TV ads for HIV treatment

GlaxoSmithKline's ViiV Healthcare is taking its dedicated history in HIV treatment and community involvement to the small screen. New TV advertising for its HIV fighter Triumeq features five people living with HIV talking about their diagnoses and treatment, as well as images showing how they’re “Moving Forward.”

It may also be a first for an HIV drug; while HIV awareness ads have aired on TV before, no other branded HIV drugs, at least in recent history, have aired TV spots. Healthcare professionals, advocates and people living with HIV have been asking ViiV for some time why they weren’t advertising on TV, Andrew Perry, ViiV VP of marketing in the U.S., said in an email interview.

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“Given the importance of presenting realistic, positive images of the life a person being treated for HIV can lead, we felt like it was the right time to broaden our approach,” he said. “… We felt that now more than ever we must present a realistic, modern view of what the life of a person living with HIV can look like if their HIV is appropriately treated—and to do that on television for the first time. Reaching some people living with HIV can also be difficult, so television advertising is one more way to broaden our reach to help ensure no one living with HIV is left behind."

Some of the people who star in the TV spot already appear in other media for Triumeq. ViiV also used an organization that connects patients with companies looking for ambassadors and advocates, Perry said, acknowledging the “brave step” these patients have taken.

“Appearing on TV is a daunting commitment, and publicly disclosing their HIV status in a national TV campaign required an amazing level of bravery for each of our ambassadors. We are so grateful for their courage in sharing their status and their journey,” he said.

The TV ad began airing in early November and will resume in early January after a break for the holidays, Perry said. Triumeq TV is just one media component of the “Moving Forward” campaign, which also includes print, digital, in-office and social media.

ViiV, created in 2009 by majority partner GlaxoSmithKline along with shareholder Pfizer—and with Shionogi joining as another shareholder in 2012—focuses exclusively on HIV treatment and currently has 12 drugs on the market. It recorded sales of €3.5 billion 2016.

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ViiV’s most recent FDA approval was for Juluca, the first complete two-drug regimen for patients with HIV. The med combines ViiV’s Tivicay and Edurant from Johnson & Johnson pharma unit Janssen.

DTC Perspectives' Bob Ehrlich wrote in a recent blog post about ViiV's move to TV that other specialty category drugs such as those in cancer and hepatitis have done the same in recent years. "ViiV would need about 50 new patients per million invested in television to break even. That number seems achievable and I am sure ViiV will know fairly quickly if the ROI is positive," he wrote.

Ehrlich also speculated that the competition might do the same. "The HIV category is highly competitive with multiple drugs used and promoted," he said. "Triumeq has decided to up the media ante by choosing television. We will see if anyone else follows."