What Position Should Healthcare Ads Play in the Super Bowl

February 3, 2020
Chris Neuner

Over the past years we’ve seen some great healthcare ads premier during the Super Bowl. In 2017 Beaumont Health, Aflac, and UnitedHealth Group all had their voices heard, while 2018 was dominated by Healthcare Systems and Hospital Groups like Cleveland Clinic alongside local health system campaigns.

Last night’s game showed a variety of impactful, funny, smart and emotional commercials, like New York Life Insurance’s “Love Takes Action” which focused on the different types of love one experiences throughout their life and touched upon the various stages of one’s health, I particularly liked Google’s “Loretta” spot which addressed the health issues of fading memory.

Looking at the bigger picture of Super Bowl commercials, we’ve started to notice a recent trend - true healthcare and pharma ads are missing from the big game. The last pharma ads aired were in 2016 when AstraZeneca promoted its unbranded disease awareness campaign for Opioid-Induced Constipation - (now directing to the drug page of Movantic) and Valeant had two spots promoting their toe fungus medicine Jubila.

Premiering a Super Bowl spot is undoubtedly an opportunity to generate nationwide buzz. But these costly campaigns can be seen as too broad in an environment where, for us as example, specialty medicine is becoming more of the opportunity to reach and educate niche patient sets. Programmatic advertising in particular presents a much bigger opportunity for brands to expand their message, distribute content and make an impact on their audience - whether that’s a broad swath of America or a niche population suffering from a condition. 

For healthcare marketers, a Super Bowl type of event would be reaching the patient or physician exactly at the right time in their decision journey with the appropriate solution for them. For healthcare and especially pharma brands digital touchpoints provide targeting opportunities to the individual level like NPI targeting to reach a physician, or contextual retargeting of a patient likely suffering from a disease. These targeting capabilities are available 24/7 365 days a year and potentially don’t require the reach of annual game.

As a health marketer, how would you approach this? Would you like to see healthcare and pharma advertising be more present in the Super Bowl? And if so, what position should it play?

Chris Neuner

Chief Strategy Officer, PulsePoint

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