Spending Surges Behind Pet Drugs

Treatments Tackle Maladies From Fleas to ‘Cognitive Dysfunction’
CHICAGO–Pfizer is spending an estimated $10 million to launch its latest product, a drug that offers “new hope” for aging patients and those who love them.
The campaign from Colle & McVoy, Minneapolis, is comprised of print, direct mail and broadcast and cable TV ads. But the patient aided by Pfizer’s new drug isn’t a person.
It’s the family dog.
Anipryl, which treats canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome, is the Exton, Pa., company’s new addition to the growing advertising category of pet healthcare products.
Ad spending on pet health has exploded from $17 million in 1994 to more than $97 million in 1997, according to estimates from Competitive Media Reporting. Advertising has been used to back brands including Bayer’s Advantage, Novartis’ Sentinel and Pfizer’s Rimadyl.
“Just as on the human side, you’re seeing people take more responsibility [for healthcare],” Janet McGrath, senior vice president of the pet group at C&M, said of the increased spending. “People are getting more involved on the pet side.”
McGrath, who helmed C&M’s campaign for Rimadyl arthritis treatment, is overseeing the Anipryl launch. Advertising for the brand broke late last month.
A TV spot airing on broadcast and cable TV networks features snippets of a dog’s life as a voiceover outlines the symptoms of CDS.
“Does your dog have trouble recognizing you?” a voiceover asks as an owner greets his dog. Several vignettes are played out as owners are urged to talk to their vets about CDS.
The tagline is, “Giving old dogs a new lease on life.”
The agency is taking a similar approach to this campaign as it did for Rimadyl, educating pet owners on an illness they may not be aware of and introducing them to a treatment, McGrath said. Pfizer spent $21 million through November 1998 on Rimadyl, according to CMR.
One of the biggest spenders in the category is Bayer Animal Health, which markets a flea and tick prevention called Advantage.
The campaign for that product has been running since 1996, but the company raised its profile last year, airing a spot during the much-hyped Seinfeld finale on NBC. The company also broke a new execution during the Grammy awards last month.
Bayer spent $23 million on Advantage advertising over the first 11 months of last year, while Novartis spent $20 million on parasite protection drug Sentinel, according to CMR.
John Payne, vice president of the animal health group at Shawnee Mission, Kan.-based Bayer, said he expects other animal health companies to follow suit. “People have seen what [Bayer and Novartis] have able to do,” he said. “I knew that if we got our message out, people would flock to veterinarians.”
The growth of the market can be attributed to a number of factors, ranging from the growing number of people who spend lavishly on their pets to eased restrictions on general pharmaceutical ads by the FDA.
The growth in pet pharmaceutical marketing was not unexpected and is not expected to slow, said Dr. Bill Keller of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.