DTC marketers addicted to TV

TV creates awareness quickly when you have a big audience, but TV is a waste of money when your audience is small. I can get better results using digital laser targeting and targeted print ads, but DTC marketers are like TV because it makes them feel important within their company.

Tepezza has been running many ads on TV, but it’s a waste of money. The money could have been better spent to learn all they can about their audience and take the message to where they are, either in print or online. Thyroid eye disease affects more women than men, although men are more likely to have severe illnesses. The exact prevalence of thyroid eye disease is not known but is estimated to be 16 per 100,000 women in the general population and 2.9 per 100,000 men in the general population. So why in the hell is Tepezza running TV ads?

We know why. It’s either because the DTC Director at Horizon is trying to make a name for themselves or because someone at the agency is a damn good salesman.

At Lilly, we had something called “the healthcare transaction model.” Marketers were tapped to develop a model that showed the patient’s journey to getting an Rx. Back then, in the golden age of DTC, TV was an essential piece of the puzzle. Today, however, TV is NOT as big a part as online. Today, patients and caregivers go online to learn about the product. They want to know about side effects and costs but “what’s in it for me?”.

DTC brand managers will study DTC TV ad development for months. They even study the talent within the commercial and imagery, but “just use something from the TV campaign” is good enough when it comes to digital.

Yesterday I was interviewed by a reporter from a major business magazine who wanted to know why drug companies spend so much on TV. I responded, “while some drugs benefit from TV, many others do not because their audience is too small or because they run the same commercials repeatedly.” He then asked, “why is that?”. I told him it was the “business of the drug industry.” He finally said, “I’m hearing the same thing from physicians.”

TV is an excellent resume bullet point, but I can tear holes in any TV strategy in too many cases while they continue to waste money on bad digital marketing.