Everybody likes to win awards and there are many awards for advertising and for pharmaceutical industry advertising in particular.

DTC Perspectives, a fine trade publication focused on direct-to-consumer advertising, gives out several awards each year. The DTC National Advertising Award, for example, was given to Lunesta at The 2006 DTC National Conference in the spring. To counter that, Prescription Access Litigation (PAL) Project, a critic of DTC, handed Lunesta it’s “Bitter Pill Award” (see “Lunesta: Golden or Bitter Pill?“).

In yesterday’s posts to Pharma Marketing Blog, I mentioned a few winners of the 5th Annual “Perspectives in Excellence” (POE) Award that were announced at the DTC in the New Era conference (see “Allergan Ignores Guidelines, Wins Award Anyway” and “Rozerem Ads Innovatively Ineffectual“).

According to the POE Award promo, “The POE Awards provide the industry with an opportunity to recognize the companies and agencies that are leading the industry with responsible [my emphasis] and innovative DTC communications.”

I’d like to offer you my comments on the POE Award winners and losers and see how many of you agree with me about the “good, the bad, and the ugly” vs. how many agree with DTC Perspectives and the judges in their panel.

I am doing this partly to respond to a recent comment I received, which is:

“Okay, so you’ve picked on Dr. Jarvik, the Beaver, and even Abe Lincoln. [See “Lipitor’s Jarvik: Fop or Flop?” and “Rozerem Ads Dis Lincoln, Show Beaver“.]

Are there any pharmaceutical marketing ads that you DO like and that you DO think are effective? Inquiring blog readers’ minds want to know!”

Of course there are pharmaceutical marketing ads that I like and that I think should win awards. But since these get so much attention in the trade publications and at award dinners, etc., I don’t feel that there is much I can add that has not already been said.

What I find is that many journalists and trade publications cannot or will not say the “Emperor has no clothes!” when it is often necessary to do so.

I cannot tell you how often I’ve heard from industry professionals — including people within pharma companies — how much they appreciate and enjoy my commentary, primarily because they wish they could say it themselves. These are the people I speak for.

When it comes to the POEs, I feel more comfortable focusing on evaluating the contenders according to whether they are responsible DTC communications rather than how innovative they are. Not that the two attributes cannot go hand in hand. It’s just that many agencies now say that they can be both responsible and creative, yet they tend to give out awards to themselves based almost exclusively on innovation and creativity, not on “responsibilty.” Also, I find that awards — and I not talking just about the POEs — do not necessarily award the communications that are the most effective in terms of ROI.

Anyway, here are selected POE Award results:

Best ‘New’ Brand of the Year (DTC campaign launched after June 2005)

  • Avodart
  • Requip
  • Rozerem
  • VesiCare
  • Zetia

Before you are tainted by my views and the actual winning brands, take a moment to vote yourself:

Free polls from Pollhost.com
What’s Your Choice for Best New Brand of the Year?
Avodart Requip Rozerem VESIcare Zetia

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that I am no fan of the Rozerem or Requip campaigns. Most people I’ve spoken to — including industry professionals — agree that the Rozerem ad campaign is a disaster. It doesn’t communicate in a straight-forward way the main advantage the product has over its competition. But it’s creative!

My vote goes to Zetia. As opposed to the other products, I think it treats a real medical problem rather than tingling or tinkling problems. A friend calls these drugs “below the belt” products.

Also, the Zetia ads are creative — some use the “doctors in white coats” approach, which “creative” people are bored with; but other Zetia ads feature regular people. The ads show how the product works and why it is different and effective.

It turns out that I picked a winner? Did you? Here are the winners:

  • Gold: Zetia
  • Silver: Avodart
  • Bronze: Rozerem

Best Use of PR in a DTC Campaign

  • Depression Hurts (Cymbalta Unbranded), Eli Lilly
  • If You Were My Sister (Arimidex Unbranded, Disease Education), AstraZeneca
  • Premarin –– Talking to Your Doctor with Cheryl Ladd by Wyeth
  • Sally Field / Rally With Sally for Bone Health, Roche and GSK for Boniva
  • The Flomax One Week Challenge

I may have been exposed to all these campaigns, but I cannot recall if they were PR (ie, in the newspaper or on talk shows, etc.) or as unbranded or branded ads. Unbranded, disease awareness ads are in the gray area betweenn PR and advertising, if there is such an area (see “Marketing Disguised as PR“).

Vote now:

Which is the Best Use of PR in a DTC Campaign?
Depression Hurts
If You Were My Sister
Talking to Your Doctor with Cheryl Ladd
Rally With Sally for Bone Health
The Flomax One Week Challenge
Free polls from Pollhost.com

My vote was for “If Your Were My Sister” although I cannot explain why the equally effective and important HPV campaign by Merck was not included in the list. Perhaps it started too late in the year to be considered by the judges (although the HPV Vaccine ad campaignn made the list of contenders for the Most Creative Ad Campaign).

Here are the winners:

  • Gold: If You Were My Sister
  • Silver: Depression Hurts
  • Bronze: Sally Field

Again, I’m not a fan of the “Depression Hurts” campaign. But you already know that (see “Pharma Marketing Blog: Immutable Laws of DTC Domain Naming“).

The final category I will comment on is:

Most Innovative DTC Campaign

  • Arimidex
  • HPV Vaccine
  • Rozerem
  • VesiCare
  • Vytorin

This is where the rubber meets the road as far as awards are concerned. What do you think?

Free polls from Pollhost.com
What is the Most Innovative Campaign?
Arimidex HPV Vaccine Rozerem VESIcare Vytorin

My vote went to Vytorin. I really like these ads. The colors are great and a lot of care went in to the design — even the backgrounds. Also, the people look real; they are not perfect physical specimens like you see in most ads. I can relate. I really want to ask my doctor for Vytorin next time I see her.

The Vytorin campaign is very creative, although I’d hate to see what dish I look like. That thought just gave me an idea for social networking Vytorin advertising: host a site where people can upload family portraits and match them with food photos in a library. Create online “cards” from these that users can send to their family members. Include a promo for Vytorin, of course!

I already commented on Rozerem, which is a good example of creativity and innovation trumping effectiveness (see “Rozerem Ads Innovatively Ineffectual“).

And the winners are:

  • Gold: Vytorin
  • Silver: HPV Vaccine
  • Bronze: Rozerem

I’m batting 1000! Who would have thought it? Me agreeing with the industry leaders and shakers!

Don’t get too excited. I’ve only shown you the results of a few of the categories in which POE Awards were given. I didn’t do too well in the other categories. But that’s how you promote products — selective use of data. Works for me!