5. Brand: Emgality
Company: Eli Lilly
What is it: CGRP migraine treatment
2019 spend: $161 million
2018 spend: $4.2 million
Emgality is one of two new brands in the pharma ad spender top 10 for 2019, along with Sanofi and Regeneron’s Dupixent at No. 3. Eli Lilly launched its DTC effort in earnest in February 2019 with a TV, print, digital and social media campaign called “Imagine” after the CGRP inhibitor was approved for migraine treatment in September 2018.
Lilly hired director Robert Stromberg, who worked on blockbuster films including “Avatar” and “Maleficent,” to shoot the commercial built around research that found that though patients experience the sometimes debilitating effects of migraines, they refuse to give up. Stromberg knew firsthand about the real-life impact through his wife, who suffers from migraines.
The first TV ad showed fun and active imaginary play between a mother and daughter—pretending to be princesses, pirates, robots, aliens and pilots—as a voice-over talked about the potential of days without having to push through migraines. Newer commercials later in the year focused on friends, with a woman happily meeting with friends and not having to just imagine more migraine-free days.
Then in June, Emgality added a second indication for cluster headache treatment, and Lilly launched an online unbranded educational campaign in support.
As the third-to-market CGRP migraine treatment, Lilly turned to DTC to help it catch up more quickly with Amgen’s Aimovig and Teva's Ajovy. And it may have worked. Emgality is second to Aimovig in market share, reaching 31% as of November, according to Spherix Global Insights.
For the year, Lilly reported annual sales of $162.5 million, building on revenues quarter after quarter for the year. Fourth-quarter sales increased by 22% globally and 27% in the U.S. over the previous quarter, primarily driven by “increased demand,” the company reported.