It seems that Cialis will be back at the Super Bowl with a 60-second commercial that may cost as much as $4.8 million (see “Impotence drug returns to Super Bowl A 60-second spot for Cialis to appear during this year’s most-watched TV event“).

While many may lament the “bursting of the ‘G-rated’ Super Bowl myth” because the ads must mention the four hour erection side effect, what about the amount of money being spent for these Super Bowl DTC ads? While $4-5 million is a drop in the bucket for an annual ad budget of over $137 million (see “ED Drug Sales Limp“), is it a waste of money?

I think not.

Buzz is Not Regulated by FDA
Super Bowl ads always create “buzz.” Already there are several articles in the press about the Cialis ad and all this is FREE publicity and advertising. Even the four-hour erection side effect message is being touted as “the best marketing slogan of 2004” by a principal at a Los Angeles sports marketing consulting group (see “Provocative ads burst ‘G-rated’ Super Bowl myth“).

Given this kind of exposure and the casting of a side effect as an innovative marketing slogan (a great example of Orwellian Newspeak), I think the buzz is the PRIMARY reason for these ads to appear on the Super Bowl.

And reporters eat right out of the marketers’ hands, rarely questioning the statistics bandied about and quoting biased sources. And they can quote outlandish comments by so-called experts — such as that LA sports marketing guy — without any balance required whatsoever! Buzz is not a regulated activity — not by the FDA nor by the FTC. It’s all freedom of the press, you know.

For example, in each ED drug “buzz” article, the reporter dutifully repeats the nearly baseless statistic that 30 million men in the U.S. suffer from ED (erectile dysfunction). In a previous post (see “ED Drug Sales Limp“), I point out that medical experts hired by the pharmaceutical industry often quote this number whereas according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, the “Incidence [of ED] increases with age: About 5 percent of 40-year-old men and between 15 and 25 percent of 65-year-old men experience ED.”

So, only about 5% of the male Super Bowl audience actually may need Cialis. But the news-reading public is a much older demographic and perhaps the TRUE target of the Super Bowl DTC ad — through the inevitable “buzz” articles it creates.