“Someone please let me in on what’s going on with pharmaceutical advertising,” a VP and creative director recently opined on the anonymous networking app Fishbowl. “Why is it the dumbest, most juvenile shit on television? It’s all horrible. My guess is you guys are getting paid a lot to work with a bunch of know-it-all, god complex doctors.”
To which a Saatchi & Saatchi employee responded: “It probably feels very frustrating to see a lot of your mentees and even colleagues go over to pharma during this dry spell. Especially knowing what may be waiting for them creatively. But here’s what’s also waiting for them: a shit ton of cash, the opportunity to provide for their family, less ego and less pressure to be ‘always on.’”
That exchange, melodramatic and contentious as it was, sums up pretty well what’s going on in the healthcare marketing space. Creating those commercials featuring animated bladders (Myrbetriq), ungrammatical mnemonic devices ("Du More with Dupixent") and happy peppy people going about their days in perpetual mild shock ("Oh, oh, oh Ozempic") has become one of the sexiest jobs in advertising. Healthcare advertising for direct-to-consumer drugs with barely pronounceable names is now a salve for ad agencies wounded by pandemic-induced spending slowdowns in other sectors.