As both summer and the pandemic wear on, pharma TV advertising may have settled into a groove. That is, TV spending came in slightly lower than usual year over year again in July, but the industry's totals didn't dip nearly as much as those in other industries.
Spending among the top 10 pharma advertisers was $136 million, down 5% from last July’s $144 million, according to real-time TV ad tracker iSpot.tv. That’s a mild contraction compared with expert predictions of 20% or more. Ad buyers expect overall 2020 TV advertising spend to decline by one-fifth from last year because of COVID-19’s economic impact, according to an IAB study in June.
While some pharma brands dial down TV spending, others have been willing to step up in what has been an ongoing trend through the pandemic to date. For instance, while AbbVie's Rinvoq dropped back, Roche’s multiple sclerosis drug Ocrevus jumped up to No. 2 on the list with a TV commercial, “Dear MS,” that debuted in the fall, according to iSpot.tv data.
Roche's move may be fueled in part by the already crowded multiple sclerosis market heating up. Bristol Myers Squibb nabbed FDA approval for Zeposia in May, while Mylan got FDA approval for the first MS oral generic of Biogen’s Tecfidera just last week. Wednesday, Mylan said it was launching the copycat med in spite of pending legal action from Biogen.
AbbVie retained its top TV spending spot in July, although its budget dropped, down more than 40% to $34 million for the month. It also cut down the number of spots it ran to three.
Overall, the top 10 pharma brands spent $136 million in July, down from $141 million in June and $149 million in May.