Have You Seen Our Ad?

I was watching football on Sunday morning, and an advertisement came on for Symbicort that featured an older gentlemen working on his truck. He’s talking about Symbicort generically improving his life. You know how these medication commercials go – sometimes you get to the end of the commercial and you still have no clue what the medication does. Does it help with blood pressure, give you an erection, make your eyelashes longer, or all of the above? Well, it turns out that Symbicort is for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – basically, it’s like an inhaler that helps you breathe easier. I’ve included a shot of the ad below, as I couldn’t find the video online. Also – sorry about the resolution – I took the photo with my iPhone on a my non-hi-def TV in the bedroom.

Symbicort TV Ad

Symbicort TV Ad

My problem is not with the script for the advertisement, but rather with a line that appeared at the bottom: See our ad in Ladies Home Journal.

TV Ad 2

I have two issues with this:

1. Who is your target audience? COPD is not exclusive to men. In fact, it seems to inflict approximately the same number of men as women. This ad appeared during football on Sunday, which is dominantly male. OK, no problem, you want to reach the guys watching football. Why does your ad ask me to see the ad in Ladies Home Journal? Do you really think that a lot of the people that watch football on Sundays (men) read Ladies Home Journal? It’s not only unlikely, it’s stupid. Let’s say that in your channel planning, you decided to run  TV ads and magazine ads. Fine. And you decided to buy air time during a dominantly male program. Fine. Would you not also purchase an ad in a dominantly male magazine, like Sports Illustrated? THEN, it would be far more logical to say, “See our ad in Sports Illustrated.” I’m not mad at you for placing an ad in Ladies Home Journal – just don’t tell me about it during men’s programming.

2. See your ad in a magazine? Seriously? Why even add this line to TV ads? Unless you have the magazine in your home, you’re not going to head down to the grocery store and grab the magazine to find out more about an obscure drug ad. We already know that fewer and fewer people are reading magazines – they’re going out of business left and right. We’re going to go online to find out more information. In their defense, they did include their URL. I think my bottom line is that it’s a outdated technique to put, “See our ad in…” Don’t get me wrong, integrated marketing campaigns are supremely important. But, I think this technique misses the mark completely.

What do you all think? Was this poor marketing, or was it smart integration?

12 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Wolfy said,

    I think that’s a factor of limited media budgets and execs wanting to hit too many birds with one stone. They probably have that ad in a couple of different mags that might not fit well.

    The funny thing to me is that traditional advertisers and marketers see the need for integration with multiple media, they just haven’t recognized that it needs to go farther than TV, Print and Outdoor.


  2. 2

    Anon Guy said,

    I’ve seen this “see our ad in ….” used quite a few times and, yeah, sometimes the magazine choices seem odd given the TV demographics. But, I’m wonder if it isn’t some kind of government requirement. If you see those ads in magazines, it’s usually a multi-pager with the last one devoted to all the technical specs and what can potentially go wrong. The kind of stuff one can’t, and wouldn’t want to, squeeze into a 30-second spot. So perhaps that is a way for the TV ads to get around having to make a myriad of disclosures. It lets the audience know if they want the complete scoop they can read it in whatever magazine they bought an ad in that month (in this case, LHJ). Nobody does, but it probably fulfills some FDA rule.

    • 3

      Mike McDowell said,

      I had considered that, too. You’d figure that the requirement to house more information would be fulfilled with referring people to their website. It’s probably more difficult to find an issue of Ladies Home Journal, and then thumb through for the ad than it is to find an Internet connection. If that is an FDA policy – it surely is an odd and outdated one.

  3. 4

    Ryan Jerz said,

    I think the Anon Guy is right. Every single prescription drug that is advertised on TV has a “See our ad in XXX” somewhere, so it must be required to be printed somewhere. And if you’ve ever actually seen one of the ads in a magazine, you’d realize that they’re probably really expensive. They take up two full pages or more with all the stuff they have to print. So they may forgo demographics and choose the cheapest on that fulfills the requirement.

    • 5

      Mike McDowell said,

      I wish somebody knew the actual answer to that question: “Is it required to have a print ad version of your ad if you’re a drug company running a TV ad?”

      I’ll try to do some investigation and post a follow up.

  4. 6

    kinggame said,

    I have no idea what COPD is, but if it’s something that is more likely to target the elderly it’s another reason to refer to a magazine rather than the Internet. It’s stereotyping to say, but a good percentage of seniors really are still very uncomfortable with almost anything online.

    • 7

      Mike McDowell said,

      I considered that, too. But my issue is more with the major disconnect with advertising to an audience watching a football game, and featuring a man working on his truck, and then referring them to Ladies Home Journal. Let’s be realistic, the viewer is almost entirely male. Ladies Home Journal? How many of these guys have a Ladies Home Journal or would ever be purchasing a Ladies Home Journal? Refer them to an ad in a magazine targeted in a men’s magazine.

  5. 8

    This is directed to kinggame: COPD is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. You are very mistaken if you truely believe that it is an elderly person’s disease. Any age can have it. Most people that I know that have it, are current or former smokers, although that is not the only reason a person can have COPD. I would suggest you do your homework a little before you make statements like the one’s you made. By the way, my dad is 80 (next week) and he uses the internet daily, like many of his friends.

    • 9

      kinggame said,

      Well, thanks for the info Debra! First, I don’t, and didn’t, truly believe it was just for the elderly. If you found my comments offensive, I regret that, but I thought I was clear I didn’t have any idea about the disease. I still don’t really, but I now I have a vague concept, thanks to your quick explanation. Still, I would hazard to guess it does occur to the elderly more often than the young, if only because the old are more likely to be former or current smokers, and because most ailments occur more frequently in seniors.

      Secondly, good for your dad and many of his friends. That kind of attitude toward technology is healthy and admirable. Despite their communicative prowess, the fact remains that young people really are more open to technology as a whole and the Internet in particular, even to the point of being to their own detriment, one could argue. Whether it is online shopping, banking, or even just chatting, their is a difference in comfort levels that can be measured demographically. You can’t apply these assumptions to individuals, but they do exist for groups as a whole.

      Third, thanks for your reply.

      Mike, I completely agree that that it was a bad magazine selection. Awful. Woof! SI is getting murdered, and you can get ad space that directly targets (sorry, Debra) older, sports-watching men. That’s how they should be doing it.

  6. 10

    […] I’ve posted before, there are some marketing and advertising placement decisions that just don’t make sense, […]

  7. 11

    Steve said,

    My wife and I are having a disagreement about the green Ford pick-up truck in the Symbicort ad. She says it’s a computer-generated truck and I say it’s real. Who’s right?

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