It is with great sadness that I reprint the following story from DTC Perplexities Magazine:

Yesterday at about 9:30 A.M., while recording a Rozerem TV drug ad, former president Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Beaver, the ad’s co-star, who suddenly dropped the jump rope used in the filming of the commercial and approached the President from behind.

Lincoln and Beaver on the Rozerem set of the commercial just prior to the shooting.

“Sic, Siempre, Takeda,” shouted Beaver as he leaped off the set, bolted out of the building and onto the streets surrounding Rockefeller Plaza in New York.

Many witnesses came forth who claimed to have seen a rodent scurry down a subway entrance, but these reports could not be confirmed as there are many such rodents in New York.

The motive for the assassination is not established. Friends of JW Beaver, however, told this reporter that Lincoln recently made some comments that did not sit well with his rodent partner (see “Imprecise DTC Benefit Messages“).

Friends and relatives of Beaver expressed shock. “He was always the quiet type,” remarked W. Woodchuck, a long-time woodland pal of Beaver. “He and Lincoln would sit for hours playing chess. I’d fall asleep just watching them. I guess maybe that’s why Rozerem is such a flop.”

N. Squirrel, also a long-time friend, suggested that Deep-sea Diver may have been involved. Diver sometimes appeared in the Rozerem commercials along with Lincoln and Beaver, but always mysteriously lurking in the background. “That guy creeped me out,” commented Squirrel. “You never saw his face. I think there was kind of triangle thing going on there.Know what I mean?”

Diver could not be reached for comment.

“Despite this great loss,” said said Paul Boidy, Takeda’s director of neuroscience marketing, “our ad campaign will continue. Obviously, we will employ computer graphics to render Abe and Beaver. We think this will create even more buzz about the commercials.”

This story is a fictional account of future events. Only the names are real. The story is inspired by recent Rozerem marketing revelations reported in Brandweek (see “Ads Were a Dream, Sales a Nightmare“).

The numbers tell the real story. Brandweek reports:

“…seven months into the Rozerem campaign the results are mixed, to put it mildly. The brand is a distant sixth in its category, with a 2.4% share behind two unadvertised generics and the category’s titans: Ambien (36.8% for Ambien, 17.5% for Ambien CR) and Lunesta (12.3%), per IMS Health.

“Worse, Takeda may have spent more on ads than the drug made back in sales: between January and September 2006, Rozerem earned $48.7 million in estimated wholesale revenue, according to IMS Health (that number does not include prescriptions handled by mail). But the company has spent nearly $100 million on ads, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.”

I hate to say “I told you so!”, but I did.

Back in October, I predicted that the Rozerem DTC campaign was in negative ROI territory (see “Rozerem Ads Innovatively Ineffectual“).

I estimated that Takeda spent $50 million to make an additional $19 million in sales for the period from March through August 2006. This is a loss of $31 million over 6 months or about negative $5.2 million per month.

Compare that with the figures in the Brandweek article: for the period Jan-Sep 2006 sales were $48.7 and ad spending was $100 million for a loss of $51.3 million over 9 months or negative $5.7 million per month!

Am I good or what? I was incredibly close. Even closer if you deduct baseline sales before the campaign started.

Those numbers are so bad that any sane person would expect Takeda to fire their ad agency — is it Cramer-Krasselt of Chicago or Abelson? But, noooo… Takeda is said to be happy with the results. “Boidy,” claims Brandweek, “said he has also ordered up new ads using the same surreal theme as the first round.”

This deserves a Lewis Black comedy break:

But here is the aneurysm-causing thing that really is rattling around in my brain. There is some talk that the culprit was the 1-year self-imposed moratorium on DTC advertising. “Derek Lowe,” reports Brandweek, “a drug research scientist who asked that his employer, a major drug company, not be identified, said other drug companies may see Rozerem’s example and decide not to accede to the drug industry’s voluntary code to wait to run ads until doctors are fully educated about the drug.”

I bet this guy Lowe works at Sepracor, which markets the competing product Lunesta. Speracor is known not to be a big advocate of PhRMA’s Guiding Principles for DTC advertising (see “Sepracor Sneaks In Lunesta Reminder Ad“).

“But Takeda’s embrace of creativity was not enough to overcome Ambien and Lunesta’s leads,” reports Brandweek. “Last fall, a rival exec, Jean-Luc Pilon, director of consumer marketing for Ambien at Sanofi-Aventis, reportedly made a presentation at a drug conference that showed Takeda’s ads had made virtually no difference in Rozerem’s sales.”

A little side note for Jim Edwards, Senior Editor of Brandweek. When you say “reportedly,” do you mean reported by me in the previously mention post to this Blog (ie, “Rozerem Ads Innovatively Ineffectual“)? Because if that is what you meant, I would appreciate a plug every once in a while. Know what I mean?