According to the alliConnect Blog:

“In the marketing profession, change is a constant. At alliconnect, we’ve recently had a change in leadership.

“Founding alliconnect blogger, Steve Burton, recently resigned from his position as Vice President of Weight Control for GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare. Steve was instrumental to the creation of alliconnect blog and his blog entry on his oops experience is still one of the most visited posts to date.”

IMHO, the resignation of Mr. Burton specifically signals the end of the alliConnect Blog — or at least the transparency it has championed — and may portend the retreat of pharma marketing away from Web 2.0 principles in general.

The sales of alli have not lived up to expectations and analysts suggest that all this “transparency” about diet and exercise as part of the treatment mix is just too hard for advertising to tackle.

“As a drug that should theoretically trigger huge sales, the preliminary figures are ‘pretty underwhelming,’ said Steve Brozak, an analyst with WBB Securities. The problem may be that the drug’s marketing campaign stresses the need to transform eating and exercise habits for it to be effective, Brozak said. That’s not easy to accomplish through advertising, he said.” (see “Glaxo: 4M people tried diet drug since launch“).

If DTC advertising is going to survive Congressional scrutiny, tackling life style issues has to be part of the message in all DTC ads — which is one principle espoused by the DTC Guidelines that PhRMA promised some senators it would revise.

Just like America is getting ready to jettison its environmental principles in order to produce more oil, Glaxo is replacing an advocate of Web 2.0 and transparency in advertising in order to increase sales. Ie, good bye to alliConnect!

Speaking of sales, I cannot make the numbers work that were reported in the AP analyst story cited above. Maybe you can help me do the math.

The story says: “At the time of the drug’s launch, the company estimated it would eventually sell between 5 million and 6 million kits annually, translating to at least $1.5 billion in annual retail sales.”

To generate $1.5 billion in sales from 6 million kits means that each kit must cost $250. Yet the article also says “A 60-capsule kit costs about $50 while a 90-capsule pack costs about $60.”


What About Marketing ROI?
If 4 million people bought the kit (as the article says) and paid $50 per kit, that adds up to $200 million in sales. GSK may have spent $150 million in advertising alli to achieve these sales. ROI? $1.33. Which is about average for DTC advertising.