We have now become used to television commercials for prescription meds with their sadly humorous speed-reading of warnings and side-effects.  I guess that’s why the ad for Trifexis caught my eye. The spot ran just as any other prescription drug spot would run with that very same disclaimer blog – both in voice-over and text. But it left me confused because the formula they used for the ad was exactly what we see for humans all the time – not what we see for dogs. You see, Trifexis is a prescription med for canines. As I looked deeper, it pointed to something quite scary – the further societal consideration of dogs as equal to humans.  Don’t get me wrong, I love dogs and even sort of understand how some families really do treat their dogs as if they were biological children. As I took a look at some of drug maker, Elanco’s marketing for Trifexis, I was just amazed how pets are the next frontier for prescription meds.

The spot I saw on TV was innocuous enough, with a happy family on a beautiful day.  The only problem the family faces is that the dog is being treated like the “Boy in the Plastic Bubble” (like that 1976 John Travolta TV Movie).  Through the course of the commercial, you can’t tell if the protection is for the dog or the family.  Not until the second half, when all of the legal mumbo jumbo comes in do you really get what it is.

I give them credit for not only doing something so striking in its imagery and closeness to the accepted norm for human prescriptions, but for also being consistent across all channels. Their messaging has slight changes between formats – with digital outlets being the clearest from the beginning about what it is.  The digital media creative starts off with the “in the bubble” image and “Protect Your Dog From Parasites” line of copy.

The print ad I found in Parade Magazine was a little confusing because, again, you didn’t know immediately whether the drug is for humans or dogs. The image is of a boy snuggling his dog with big gloves through the plexiglass and the tagline below reading, “Don’t let parasite protection come between you and your dog.” The campaign then goes on to follow the same format as other human drug ads with a bunch of legal on the main page and the next, a mail-in rebate offer and a little bit of marketing specific to what it actually does.

Perhaps I don’t view enough programming to have seen ads of this nature for pets before.  I know I’ve seen ads for Frontline, Advantix and other flea and tick controllers, but they just aren’t prescription meds and did not devolve into legal disclaimers. Funnily, Advantix is owned by Bayer – who knows a thing or two about marketing drugs to humans…

Is this a sign of things to come?  With prescription meds being a huge business vertical, do pet meds expand the market exponentially? Is it a way for companies that are not usually prescription drug providers to jump into the fray for a different customer? Whichever way you slice it – except for a few creative flourishes, there is bound to be many products and campaigns on their way to market that will cause us to scratch our heads in wonder.  Oh, and don’t forget, there is probably a drug for that!