Lunesta Moth - Sunovion Pharmaceuticals

Character: Lunesta Moth
Company: Sunovion Pharmaceuticals (formerly Sepracor), bought by Sumitomo Dainippon

The lovely bioluminescent luna moth for Lunesta fluttered onto the ad scene in 2005, but with a tough agenda: Take down the sleep aid market dominator Ambien, made by Sanofi.

Backed by heavy spending--north of $200 million that first year, according to Adweek--the moth quickly became a hit, pushing the insomnia market from $2.2 billion in 2004 to $2.8 billion in 2005, with Lunesta only on the market for 8 of those months. Lunesta was the most advertised drug that year.

Suddenly, insomnia was sexy again, Adweek wrote, noting that before Lunesta's launch, insomnia was a mature category "beset by addiction worries and a string of high-profile failed drugs." Not surprisingly, the moth has been both credited and blamed for the revival of the category.

In 2012, the Lunesta Moth was still airing in a multimedia "Project Luna" campaign created by ad agency Deutsch, meant as a way to build awareness and consideration before the drug went off patent in 2014.

Maker Sunovion did not reply to requests for this profile, but the Lunesta moth is still active, currently running in a 15-second spot that encourages viewers to, which takes them to the Lunesta website.

Interestingly, the character may have inspired the drug name. According to Adweek, the FDA turned down Sepracor's original name for the sleep aid--Estorra--so the luna moth character was created by ad agency McCann before the drug name was chosen.

At its peak, sales for Lunesta ranged from $500 million to more than $1 billion, according to news reports. In 2013, revenue was still more than $450 million, but post-patent in 2014, it dropped 80% to about $70 million. -- Beth Snyder Bulik

- read Adweek story

For more:
FDA forces Lunesta dosage drop over dozing fears
Sepracor slashes Lunesta ad budget
Lunesta moth tops memorable drug ads


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