Character: Zoloft Sad Blob
Pfizer ($PFE) turned to simplicity for its Zoloft sad blob campaign. The company launched ads featuring the small, angst-ridden colorless sphere in 2001, a few years before the med reached its peak sales of $3.36 billion in 2004.
In the original ad, the blob does not do or say much, standing under a rain cloud and ignoring the attention of a perky bluebird. A voiceover lists symptoms of depression and the blob sighs. Cue the woodwinds, and an animated picture illustrates the chemical imbalance of depression, with mini blobs, or chemicals, floating across nerve cells in the brain. The ad shows what happens when Zoloft prevents a chemical imbalance, as the music gradually becomes more upbeat. In the final scene, a happier blob watches the rainclouds float away, a bluebird comes back, and the blob flashes a smile and bounces away, all while the voiceover lists the med's side effects.
As animated characters go, the sad blob isn't flashy. But the blob communicates the high and lows of depression and makes the chemical imbalance of mental illness easy for consumers to understand without bells or whistles.
In another campaign, the blob sits in a dark cave and sighs. A bright orange butterfly appears, leading the blob away from the cave to join two other blobs. Similar to the bluebird commercial, the depressed blob bounces after the butterfly and smiles, metaphorically leaping away from the isolation and sadness of depression.
Pfizer declined to comment to FiercePharmaMarketing about the ads because the work has been off the air for a while. But as the company showed through its sad blob character, sometimes all it takes is clear and simple illustrations and an easy-to-follow storyline to create an effective character campaign. --Emily Wasserman
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