Once upon a Nightly News show dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quagmire and unending war,

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a drug ad,

As of someone violently sneezing, wheezing, or erectile poor.

“‘Tis some me-too drug,” I muttered, “for the erectile poor;

Only this, and nothing more.”

Not THAT Poe!
It’s time again for the POE awards! No, not the Edgar Allan Poe awards but the Perspectives on Excellence Awards — a yearly event sponsored by DTC Perspectives (see “DTC Perspectives Magazine Announces Finalists for the POEs Awards“).

I reviewed the POE winners of last year after the fact (see “Awards: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly“), but this year I’d like to review the contenders and give readers an opportunity to vote before the winners are announced at the DTC in the Age of Innovation Conference, which I hope to attend.

NOTE: The conference link above will take you to the conference discussion thread I set up at the Forums at Pharma Marketing Network. Within that thread, I solicit comments on the POE awards. You are welcome to comment here or there, but there is a much better social networking opportunity should you care to take advantage of it (for more about that, see “An Online Community of Our Own“).

There are several POE award categories, but I’d like to focus on the “Most Innovative DTC Campaign” category. The finalists are…

  • Celebrex
  • Gardasil
  • Rozerem
  • Tamiflu
  • Vytorin

Except for Tamiflu, I have written about all of these campaigns in this blog. On that basis alone, I don’t give Tamiflu much of a chance of winning. Maybe you disagree. Let me hear about it!

What does “Innovative” mean in the context of DTC advertising? I’m not sure how the POE judges define innovation, but for me innovation means more than something new — it means a new way of doing things. It’s more strategic than tactical. Using weird imagery like Abe Lincoln and a beaver jumping rope or hanging out together playing chess is just a gimmicky tactic. You really can’t say it opened up a new way of thinking about DTC advertising.

That’s why I wouldn’t vote for Rozerem. I am obviously dismayed that Rozerem makes the list every year– last year it came in third (Bronze). You can find all the posts I’ve written about the Rozerem DTC campaign by clicking here.

The new Celebrex DTC ad, on the other hand, did offer a new way of thinking about presenting side effect information and getting beyond that to the benefit message (see “Celebrex Ad: Let’s Dive Deeper” and “Risk-First DTC: A Tactic to Overcome Resistance“). I think, therefore, that the Celebrex campaign should win the Gold or the Silver.

The Gardasil campaign illustrated an interesting connection between advertising and PR. When I first saw the TV ads for Gardasil, it gave me a sense that, finally, here was a product we should all get behind. At the time, there was a lot of opposition to vaccination against a sexually-transmitted disease from the religious right. I gave Merck many kudos for courageously defying that sentiment by bring young woman — teenagers — into the message of its ads.

What destroyed the goodwill elicited by the ad was the subsequent exposure of Merck’s behind-the-scenes campaign to make vaccination mandatory (see “Does Merck Need a Vaccine for Bad PR?“). I’m not in favor of mandatory vaccination in this case.

No matter how unsavory Merck’s lobbying activity was, it did not seem to hurt Gardasil sales (see “Mandatory Vaccination Controversy Did Not Hurt Gardasil Sales!“).

After all is said and done, I still put the Gardasil campaign high up on my list of contenders for the prize.

Vytorin. What can I say? This campaign may be the longest running DTC campaign in history. It’s getting boring and weird (see “Vytorin Ads Are Getting Old — and Disturbing!“).

Vytorin, like Rozerem, is a serial POE award contender in the “Most Innovative” category. Last year, it came in first (Gold winner). So, I don’t think the Academy — the POE judges are actually called the “Academy of Excellence”! — will put it at the top of the heap this year.

But enough of what I think! It’s time for you to vote:

Which is the most INNOVATIVE DTC campaign?