Continue, Change or Bail

I was disappointed to hear the lackluster results of an ad campaign I found to be clever, on target and different than other competitors. The ad was for a drug called Rozerem, a sleep aid by drug manufacturer Takada. The drug, despite $100 million ad spend ranks 6th in its category; far behind category leaders Ambien and Lunesta and even trailing two generic brands. Check out Brandweek’s full article for more details.

So now you have to ask the following: “Was the concept wrong? Was the message wrong? Is the product inferior to its competitors? Was its late entry into the category too big of an obstacle to overcome?” I can come up with a bunch more.

Without knowing all the details I have to speculate. I think the ads are well conceived and executed as previously stated. But perhaps the product is to blame. The article references that although the drug helps those with sleeping disorders fall asleep faster, they often wake up in the middle of the night. Perhaps they succeeded in capturing first-time users but due to this shortcoming, those users didn’t refill their prescriptions and requested another brand. This combined with their late entry into the market could prove to be too big of an obstacle to overcome. And if this is true, and users aren’t repeating, the drug will die out in the next couple years. It would be nice to know what percentage of first-time users refilled their prescriptions and how that compares to industry standards.

This is where some consumer-generated feedback, through a forum or blog would be very advantageous. Instead of speculating, they can gather ongoing feedback, both from consumers and, perhaps, even physicians. If what they learn is that the product is inferior, then guess what – cut your losses now and go back to the lab and improve the product. Put the money in R&D and save the money marketing the product as is. In my opinion, these kinds of web-based tools need to be part of every campaign in some shape or form. The days of a well planned out campaign that would run for a couple years are over. You have to learn and adjust as you go.

Ah, the rules of marketing keep changing. Let’s see what happens to Rozerem over the next 24 months.