Prozac Getting A New Prescription

Burnett Tries Varied Approaches In Bringing Antidepressant To TV
CHICAGO–Eli Lilly & Co. has joined the pharmaceutical industry’s move into direct-to-consumer TV advertising with three spots for its Prozac prescription antidepressant.
The ads are a test, said a representative for Indianapolis-based Lilly, both of the general effectiveness of TV, compared to print ads, in generating responses, and of various creative approaches within the medium itself. The spots all include a toll-free number offering more detailed information.
Three 60-second spots, from Leo Burnett here, began airing last week on cable networks, including CNBC, Discovery and USA. DraftWorldwide, Chicago, which Lilly hired in June to coordinate its entry into direct response TV work, is handling media planning and buying.
The spots continue the “Welcome back” tagline Burnett has used in its consumer print advertising for Prozac since July 1997. Lilly would not disclose its budget for the TV flight, but the company spent $25 million on Prozac in the first half of 1998, out of a total ad budget of $58 million. Last year, Lilly spent over $22 million on Prozac–nearly two-thirds of its ad budget.
Two of the three spots–all directed by Dennis Manarchy of Manarchy Films here–are filmed in black and white. One, “Checklist,” mixes still photos of people who are alone or appear unhappy with a discussion of clinical depression’s symptoms. The second, “Illness,” focuses on the face of a middle-aged woman. Her anguished expression relaxes as a voiceover explains her 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 in color and slightly more upbeat. Like the other spots, its cast is primarily women–who, the company said, are twice as likely as men to suffer from depression –and continues the message that depression is a treatable illness.
The Lilly representative said the company will evaluate responses to the TV executions before deciding “if any steps need to be taken” in broadening the media schedule.
Prozac, introduced 11 years ago, is the most widely prescribed antidepressant in the U.S., according to Lilly. It said studies have estimated 24 percent of women and 15 percent of men suffer from depression at some point during their lifetimes.