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Humira TV ad buys heat up summer airwaves, blasting competition

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Humira repeated its top TV spending in pharma, trouncing the rest of the list. Gilead’s Truvada came in a distant No. 2, followed by Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Eliquis. (3dman_eu/CC0 Creative Commons)

More than one-fourth of all top-10 pharma TV spending in July came from one brand—AbbVie’s Humira. The immunology blockbuster brand dropped $42.5 million on TV ads, well ahead of Gilead Sciences’ Truvada, which was the nearest competitor at $19.7 million, according to data from real-time TV ad tracker

But does that mean TV media dipped among the rest of the pharma companies, or that AbbVie ramped up spending on Humira? Maybe a bit of both. Summer months tend to see lower spending on TV buys in general as people spend more time outdoors and not inside glued to the tube.

On the other hand, AbbVie also may be trying to wring all it can from its 15-year-old immunology blockbuster, with generic competition already on the market in Europe. The brand posted its first-ever dip in global sales in the first quarter of 2019, with total sales slipping 5.6% to $4.46 billion. However, in the U.S., which won’t see generic competition until 2023, sales were up 7% to $3.22 billion. AbbVie has been spending on TV ads well above last year’s level, with a total $277 million through the first seven months compared with $219 million over the same period last year. 

Meanwhile, another multi-indication immunology med, Novartis’ Cosentyx, is back on the top-10 list for the first time since last year. It ran three commercials in July—two for both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis and the third only for psoriasis in Novartis’ long-running campaign with singer Cyndi Lauper.

Eli Lilly’s Emgality stayed on the list for the sixth month in a row since its ad launched, aided by the mid-July debut of a new TV ad with female friends enjoining a garden party and not having to imagine migraine-free days. The new spot joins the longer-running mother and daughter imagination play date ad where the two pretend to be pirates and other characters.

Overall, pharma TV spending among the top 10 in July topped $144 million, up slightly from $140 million in June but still down from $177 million in May and $168 million in April.

1. Humira
 Stayed same
What is it? AbbVie anti-inflammatory drug
Total estimated spending: $42.5 million (up from $41.4 million in June)
Number of spots: 8 (four for arthritis, two for ulcerative colitis/Crohn’s, two for psoriasis)
Biggest-ticket ad: “Keep Us Apart” (est. $9.4 million)

2. Truvada
Up from No. 6
What is it? Gilead HIV and PrEP drug
Total estimated spending: $19.7 million (up from $9.9 million in June)
Number of spots: One
Biggest-ticket ad: “On the Pill”

3. Eliquis
 Moved up from No. 4
What is it? Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb next-gen anticoagulant
Total estimated spending: $15.7 million (up from $12.1 million in June)
Number of spots: Three
Biggest-ticket ad: “Around the Corner” (est. $8.1 million)

4. Xarelto
Down from No. 3
What is it? Johnson & Johnson next-gen anticoagulant
Total estimated spending: $13.2 million (down from $13.3 million in June)
Number of spots: Three
Biggest-ticket ad: “Not Today” (est. $7.1 million)

5. Cosentyx
 Not on list last month
What is it? Novartis next-gen psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis medication
Total estimated spending: $11.7 million
Number of spots: Three
Biggest-ticket ad: “Cyndi Lauper: See Me Now” (est. $5.4 million)

6. Emgality
 Moved up from No. 9
What is it? Eli Lilly anti-CGRP migraine treatment
Total estimated spending: $9 million (down from $8.3 million in June)
Number of spots: Two
Biggest-ticket ad: “Pirates” (est. $7.4 million)

7. Ibrance
Not on list last month
What is it? Pfizer metastatic breast cancer fighter
Total estimated spending: $8.8 million
Number of spots: One
Biggest-ticket ad: “Corey”

8. Ozempic
Not on list last month
What is it? Novo Nordisk GLP-1 diabetes med
Total estimated spending: $8.6 million
Number of spots: Two
Biggest-ticket ad: “Minigolf: Oh, Ozempic!” (est. $7.4 million)

9. Rexulti
Not on list last month
What is it? Otsuka and Lundbeck antipsychotic
Total estimated spending: $8.3 million
Number of spots: Three
Biggest-ticket ad: “Good Works Kitchen” ($4.6 million)

10. Eucrisa
Not on list last month
What is it? Pfizer PDE-4 eczema treatment
Total estimated spending: $7.1 million
Number of spots: Four
Biggest-ticket ad: “Hair Stylist” (est. $3.1 million)