Eli Lilly Airs Burnett Prozac Spots

Top U.S. Antidepressant Ventures Onto The Airwaves For First Time
CHICAGO–Eli Lilly & Co. has joined the pharmaceutical industry’s move into direct-to-consumer TV advertising with three “test” spots for prescription anti-depressant Prozac.
Three 60-second ads began airing last week on cable networks including CNBC, Discovery and USA Network. Leo Burnett here created the spots; DraftWorldwide, Chicago, hired by Lilly in June to coordinate its entry into direct-response TV, handles media planning and buying.
The spots continue the “Welcome back” tagline used in Burnett’s consumer print advertising for Prozac, which began in July 1997. The company would not disclose its budget for the TV flight, but spent $25 million on Prozac in the first half of 1998, per Competitive Media Reporting.
A representative for Indianapolis-based Lilly called the spots a test of both the effectiveness of the medium (as opposed to print) in generating responses to the toll-free number and of different creative approaches.
Two of the three spots–all directed by Dennis Manarchy of Chicago’s Manarchy Films–are filmed in black and white. One, “Checklist,” couples a series of still photographs with a discussion of clinical depression’s symptoms. The second focuses solely on the anguished face of a middle-aged woman. Her expression relaxes as she expresses relief upon learning she has an illness and doesn’t have to “just snap out of it,” as her friends have suggested.
The third spot, “Reflections,” is slightly more upbeat–while continuing the message that depression is a treatable illness–and appears in color. Its cast is primarily women, who are twice as likely as men to suffer from depression, per the company’s research.
The Lilly representative said it will evaluate responses to the TV spots before deciding whether to broaden the media schedule.
Prozac is the most-prescribed antidepressant in the U.S., according to Lilly, but faces an increasing challenge from Pfizer’s Zoloft, SmithKline Beecham’s Paxil, and other prescription medicines. Ad budgets for those brands are negligible.