Euro RSCG Tonic Takes On Diabetes

NEW YORK Sanofi-Aventis will break in March a new campaign for Lantus, a once-a-day insulin injection that fights diabetes symptoms for 24 hours.

The move heralds a ramping up of competitive aggressiveness in the $2.7 billion category.

Three print ads will appear in magazines geared toward diabetes sufferers, as well as more mainstream titles like The New York Times Magazine and Readers Digest. Euro RSCG Tonic in New York created the ads. Spending was not disclosed; the five-year-old brand was previously advertised only minimally at its launch, according to the client.

The campaign hinges on themes of passion and power, suggesting that neither need be taken away by diabetes. The first ad shows Angela Younger, a middle-age woman who is also a motorcycle enthusiast, standing proudly next to her custom bike, which is parked in her living room.

The next two ads will feature a ballerina and a go-kart racer.

The campaign is the first big project for Charlene Horvath Leitner, Sanofi’s director of consumer marketing for diabetes. Leitner said she has been in that position only about six months.

The effort will compete with Novo Nordisk’s Levemir, another 24-hour injection that was approved in 2005, and Pfizer’s Exubera, an inhalable insulin powder approved in January 2006 that the firm is expected to promote heavily.

The U.S., with its famously intractable obesity problem, provides a potentially lucrative market for the various companies that provide diabetes control products, from blood glucose detection devices such as Accu-Chek (Roche) to oral treatments such as Avandaryl (GlaxoSmithKline).

But the market is also complex, because some of America’s 21 million diabetics can control their condition through diet and exercise, some through oral medications and some through injections.

Sanofi has previously run an unbranded campaign (at to persuade oral med users to switch to injections. “This is the next phase, to have a branded message out there,” said Leitner.

Lantus had $900 million in sales last year, per Leitner.