Pharma cuts 2008 ad budgets

Last week, we showed you what happened with pharma's ad spending in 2007. Now, we're here to tell you what ad budgets look like in 2008: not good. According to Jim Edwards at BrandWeek, the money pharma is spending on ads is in decline this year for the first time ever. Health education campaigns--which aim to raise awareness of a disease or disorder without mentioning brand names--are among the hardest hit. Spending on these sorts of ads dropped 3 percent during the first half of the year, to $2.4 billion.

Looking at the past two years, that number looks pretty small. In 2006, drugmakers spent $660 million on image and education ads. In 2007, that fell to $341 million. So far this year, the same budgets now total $138 million, a 22 percent drop from the same period last year.

Times are tough all over, it's true. But unbranded advertising--while popular with some because there's no need for a litany of side effects--is a struggle to justify at cost-conscious companies. Because they aren't directly linked with sales, they're easier to cut than branded ads can be.

Pfizer is the lone exception to this new rule. It's actually increasing educational-ad spending this year with a big stop-smoking push designed to support Chantix.

- read the BrandWeek story