POWER PLAY: Sports have been good to Mr. Pernock and GlaxoSmithKline. Former NFL player/coach Mike Ditka is "Tackling Men's Health" for Levitra, the ED remedy from GlaxoSmithKline and Bayer; last month, fellow Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett joined the program. Meanwhile, Glaxo's Wellbutrin XL depression medication is a sponsor of Nascar driver Bobby Labonte. As part of that deal, Glaxo sets up screening facilities at racetracks. Such efforts aren't as glaring a target for critics as prime-time TV commercials. Which is not to rap TV advertising, since Levitra and rival Cialis both advertised on the year's biggest TV event, the Super Bowl.
DOWNSIDE: Visible as pharma's No. 2 marketer, Glaxo can't avoid the heat from those who oppose DTC advertising, charging that it contributes to the high price of drugs. Glaxo has felt it necessary to run ads raising questions about the safety of low-cost drugs imported from Canada. That's hardly a way to build your brands.