March 9th, 2011

Those Non-Branded DTC Ads Seem To Be Working


More than a decade has past since direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs has become a fixture of American culture. More recently, though, the so-called unbranded ad - which discusses diseases instead of specific meds - has become equally ubiquitous. But how do these resonate with consumers?

A new study finds that non-branded ads compared favorably with conventional ads for specific branded meds. A total of 437 people were divided into two groups and then four subgroups, who were shown branded or non-branded ads for either allergy meds or oral contraceptives (drug and company names were fictitious in order to reduce bias). They were asked 16 questions to measure involvement and attitude toward the ads, the companies and the pharmaceutical industry.

The upshot? Not surprisingly, consumers who suffered from maladies that were the subject of the ads reviewed had more positive attitudes toward non-branded ads. But non-branded ads still produced favorable attitudes for consumers who had what the study authors called “low involvement,” which was another way of saying they did not perceive a need for the meds in the ads.

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