The campaign is the most ambitious marketing push yet behind Lilly's diabetes drugs. Lilly said it has spent less than $1 million annually marketing its insulin products in the past, almost exclusively via direct mail to doctors.
"The traditional way of pushing the message through doctors just doesn't work," Gramercy Group President Mark D. Severini said. "It's almost impossible to break through the clutter, especially in the diabetes market."
DIABETES DRUG SHARE
While Lilly holds 80% of the insulin market, the proliferation of oral medications for diabetes treatment has hurt the company in recent years, said Kathleen Lewis, a Lilly marketing associate. Despite its dominance in insulin, Lilly has only 28% of the overall diabetes medication market.
Lilly had been hesitant to reach out to the general public because only 8 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. But the receptiveness of the diabetic community to a DTC campaign-as well as the diverse demographics of the group-convinced Lilly to try a new strategy, Ms. Lewis said.
Ads focus on the number "140," which the ADA has designated as the before-meal blood-sugar "take-action" level for diabetics. The ads warn diabetics they "may be heading out of control" if their blood-sugar level exceeds 140 milligrams per deciliter of blood.
But the ads are conspicuously light on branding and product claims. They downplay the Lilly logo, concentrating instead on a toll-free number diabetics can call to get an informational video.
Insulin and the two Lilly brand names are not mentioned in the ads, and the video, a 26-minute infomercial, also downplays the Lilly name. Ms. Lewis said Lilly's dominance in the insulin market allowed the company to keep the campaign unbranded.
"If patients are going to go on insulin, 80% of them are going to use Lilly," she said.
The $7 million budget will support the campaign through yearend. Ms. Lewis said