BOO! Big Pharmas Like GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and Mylan Use Scare Tactics to Drum Up Sales
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff
The EpiPen commercial, which doesn’t actually mention Mylan by name, depicts a young person going into anaphylactic shock after ingesting peanuts. The ad actually directs consumers to an informational website about anaphylactic shock and remedies, such as the EpiPen–which has had its own terror-inducing issues lately when people see the high-price of the autoinjector.
The trend of using fear tactics, for lack of a better explanation, has come about in the past few years. Ad Age noted that when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration relaxed pharmaceutical advertising rules in the 90s, ads were “often more cheerful, upbeat and positive.” However, the advertisements have turned darker as, Ad Age says, “prices have risen and consumers have become more cynical of profiteering brands.
“This campaign is designed to help parents become aware of the potential risk of HPV-related cancers for their children later in life,” the Merck spokesperson said, according to Ad Age.
A spokesperson for GSK said its Boostrix commercial, which features a wolf in grandmother’s clothing holding a coughing child was effective in harnessing the familiar “Little Red Riding Hood” imagery about hidden dangers. This campaign tested well among grandparents and motivated them to talk to their healthcare provider about vaccination,” the GSK spokesperson said.
Fear-mongering doesn’t always work though, when it comes to healthcare. Ad Age noted that anti-smoking advertisements intended to curb teen smoking have not been as successful.
“Fear can be motivating until it’s demotivating,” Tim Hawkey, managing director and exec creative director at Area 23, an FCB Health company, said. “There’s a threshold at which we turn off and say, ‘That’s not me, that’s someone else—my brain can’t handle this level of risk and information.'”