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In fresh advertising for migraine drug Zomig, AstraZeneca abandons barreling truck images in favor of a new vehicle: empathy.

The marketer launches an estimated $20 million direct-to-consumer national TV campaign Oct. 27 that features a mother overcome by severe pain and struggling to care for her two children.

The spot, where the son softly tells his mother "I'm sorry you're sick," seeks to appeal to the frustration migraine sufferers feel as the pain prevents them from fulfilling normal responsibilities.


"We're really tugging at the heartstrings," said Mike Boas, senior promotions manager at AstraZeneca. "We're getting emotional and saying we understand."

By employing pathos, AstraZeneca deviates from the hard-pounding image used in its previous campaign. In that effort, an 18-wheeler with bright headlights and blaring horn heads directly at the viewer. It was criticized by some members of the trucking industry and also used a "Power of Zomig" tagline that bore a resemblance to rival Pfizer's "Power of Zyrtec" allergy-drug campaign.

Mr. Boas said neither reason contributed to the decision to change the advertising. Instead, he said, the message about the intensity of migraines had become tired.

Driving the new campaign is research showing that migraine sufferers want to know others feel their pain and speak their language. The effort, expected to include print ads next year, targets women. The marketer said women make up 75% of migraine sufferers.

"It's not a headache, it's a migraine," says voice-over in the spots. Voice-over also uses the term "full-blown," which sufferers often use to describe a migraine at its worst.


The ads from KPR, New York, try to position Zomig as the migraine drug that works no matter what stage migraine pain has reached.

The tagline is "Zomig: Take it over migraine pain anytime."

A person "shouldn't think of Zomig as something you save for only your worst migraines," said Bob Muratore, agency president.

The use-anytime positioning attempts to differentiate Zomig in consumers' minds from market leader Glaxo Wellcome's Imitrex.

Since Zomig was launched last year, the market for the class of migraine drugs referred to as "triptans" has become increasingly competitive and Imitrex's market dominance has taken a hit.

Imitrex, available in tablet, injectable and nasal-spray forms, posted an 84% share of the $1.2 billion U.S. retail migraine market in 1998, but slipped to a 71% share in September, according to consultancy Scott-Levin. No. 2 Zomig has risen from a 6% share in 1998 to 11% in September.

Glaxo recently moved its $40 million Imitrex account to Grey Advertising, New York, from Klemtner Advertising. Grey has experience with migraine drugs -- it created the Zomig "truck" campaign before that account moved to KPR in February.


New Rx drugs such as Merck & Co.'s Maxalt and Glaxo's own Amerge also have contributed to the heightened competition; the overall size of the market hasn't grown significantly.

"With the new companies, the market for triptans should have expanded," said Sergio Traversa, an analyst with Mehta Partners. "That didn't happen. The new products are taking share from Imitrex."

The market is expected to become more crowded next year if Relpax, to be jointly marketed by Pfizer and Warner-Lambert Co., is OK'd by the Food & Drug

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