Myrbetriq Dancing Bladder - Astellas

Character: Myrbetriq Dancing Bladder
Company: Astellas

Astellas faced a daunting task when creating a campaign for its overactive bladder drug, Myrbetriq. Talking about bladder problems is uncomfortable, so the drugmaker wanted to ease into conversations with women while also making the issue relatable, Emily Mason, Astellas consumer marketing director of urology, told FiercePharmaMarketing

In March 2014, the company rolled out a new direct-to-consumer ad campaign for Mybetriq starring a friendly animated bladder. The character allowed Astellas to portray the burden of overactive bladder with a "lighthearted, humorous perspective that was approachable" and show how the condition can affect everyday interactions and activities, Mason said.

In the company's first TV spot, the bladder repeatedly pulls a middle-aged woman toward the bathroom. A second ad launched in February features the bladder at a bowling alley, tugging a woman toward the restroom as she picks up her shoes and gets ready to play.

The character serves as an "easy metaphor" for women to talk to their doctors about overactive bladder, Mason said. Women are often embarrassed to discuss the issue, and they sometimes need prompting to take the next step and talk to their doctors. At the end of Astellas' bowling alley ad, a woman goes to her doctor and sits down to discuss the med.

"What's great about using the characters is not only does it provide a metaphor to talk to physicians that's less embarrassing, it provides a disarming, relatable campaign and infuses a little humor, which helps women talk about the condition," Mason said. "For us, it's been really successful helping patients relate to their conditions and motivate them to take action."

So far, the response to the campaigns has been "very positive," she said. Next up, Astellas plans to bring its bladder character to multiple channels. The company's target audience, women ages 45-69 with symptoms of overactive bladder, spends 19 hours online, so Astellas is exploring ads for mobile and apps. The drugmaker recently partnered with RunPee, an app that tells customers when they can go to the bathroom without missing key parts of a movie, and ran advertising for its med in cinemas.

"We're excited about the campaign and how it's speaking to our customers and motivating them out of the cyclical coping cycle and take that next step to talk to their doctor," Mason said. "We're looking to build on not only the creative evolution of where the bladder may go but look for other applications like RunPee to reach and help educate our patients." -- Emily Wasserman

For more:
Astellas presents The Bladder, animated pitch-organ for overactive-bladder med Myrbetriq
Astellas launches bladder drug, aiming for a $1.9B franchise

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