Should pharma CEOs star in their own ads?

The other day at FiercePharma HQ, we were joking about adding a celebrity angle to our newsletter. Even the most serious pubs have some kind of celeb coverage, so why not us? Well, lo and behold, the news handed us our opportunity. But the word wasn't good, at least not for celebrities who'd like to pick up extra dough promoting prescription drugs.

Come to find out, celebrities aren't much help to drugmakers. Movie and TV stars only got 18 percent of the vote for "most persuasive" spokespeople, and musicians got even less at 14 percent. Athletes scored a bit higher with 21 percent. And politicians scored the absolute worst, with 10 percent of the vote.

So who are the best pitchmeisters in the land? That would be CEOs. Some 37 percent of poll participants said famous business types were the most persuasive talking heads in advertising. And older folks were even more likely to vote for business leaders as persuasive spokespeople; some 46 percent voted for execs. Given that the lions' share of meds are in older people's bathroom cabinets, pharma might want to take note. Maybe GlaxoSmithKline's Andrew Witty (photo) or Pfizer's Jeff Kindler (photo) should talk to the cameras for their next big drug launches. 

One caveat: A recent study showed that Sally Field was a pretty effective spokeswoman for the osteoporosis med Boniva. She starred in an ad campaign that was one of the few TV viewers actually remembered, according to a report from Nielsen. So maybe persuasive ability depends on the celebrity--or CEO--you choose.

- read the Medical Marketing & Media story
- see the post at Pharmalot