Pharma Marketing Battle: Chantix vs. Abilify

Pharma Marketing Battle: Chantix vs. Abilify

(Editor’s Note that Precedes The P.S.-style Editor’s Note: Writing a pro bono internet website read by literally tens of people requires a delicate emotional balance.  And a lot of red wine.  Actually, the red wine part is really the key part of the equation.  And, frankly, I have been a little inadequate at my recent DWW attempts – frankly, I blame my meager attempts at good health.  (Also, this writing is atrocious – notice how I repeated “parts” and  “attempts” in the previous sentences?  Awful.  Anyway, I took a whole week off from drinking in an effort to run 8:30 miles during last weekends 15k…and I managed instead to blow that by almost 40 seconds per mile.  Lame.  Fuck that noise, I’m gonna be more dedicated to my craft. /Editor’s Note)

During my many hours of daily television intake, when my (or SO’s) fingers aren’t nimble enough to locate the fast forward button, I occasionally come face-to-face with television commercials (a quaint concept, I know; nowadays people mostly see ads either at the movies, while playing Angry Birds or when visiting websites with annoying sidebars).  And every so often, I am forced to ask myself “was that for real or some kind of parody?  Are we inadvertently watching an old SNL?”  Once I realize I haven’t just seen 2-3 consecutive fictional celebrity talk show sketches, I know it’s not SNL, and it’s probably something meant to actually entice consumers.  Invariably, these ridiculous commercials are for pharmaceutical products.

As you may recall, I have some experience in the pharma field.  Pharmaceutical advertising isn’t even legal in most countries (the U.S. and the homeland of the Flight of the Conchords excepted); television ads only fairly recently re-hit the airwaves here (back in 1997).  The FDA has always been a bit of a stickler for disclosure on medical products, even when the actual likelihood of a side effect (such as Flamin Hot diarrhea from the WOW brand of fat free chips (since remarketed as just Lays Light))  is very small.  Since the pharma companies have to run their commercials by the FDA, they invariably end up with disclaimers as long as, or longer than, the actual product-promoting content of the commercials – often to hilarious effect.  Who doesn’t laugh when the side effects “may include bloody vomit, gangrene and permanent blindness” for some fucking drug meant to prevent ingrown toenails?

Anyway, the two leading contenders in the category of “Most Hilarious Pharma Commercial” are certainly Abilify and Chantix.  Anyone who’s ever seen/heard either one knows what I’m talking about – the kind of shit where if you happen to be in another room and hear the commercial, you’ll move at Boltian speeds to make sure you can catch a glimpse of the earnest actors praising the risk/reward of “facial lesions that would embarass Al Davis” vs. actually being “able” to do stuff due to using Abilify (in conjunction, of course, with other depression meds.)  That’s genius marketing, probably some of the strongest advertising work since someone decided to spruce up the latest Sandler movie trailer with Brooklyn Decker in a yellow bikini roughly 3 sizes too small for her.  But who does it best?


Pharma Marketing Battle: Chantix vs. Abilify


Stupidity of Name:  This is the easiest category to determine a winner.  Chantix is a foolish name, indeed – it doesn’t really scream “this shit’ll make you stop smoking!” but it doesn’t go that extra mile and passive aggressively poke fun at its potential users.  Abilify, on the other hand, is a stupid name in a vacuum – is this a James Cameron production? – and also manages to suggest that people who are in the market for Abilify are somehow “not able” to handle life unless unless they complement their therapy with it.

Winner: Abilify, in a landslide


Side Effects:  This is a close one.  Chantix: changes in behavior, hostility, agitation, depressed mood, suicidal thoughts or actions, swelling of the face, mouth, and throat that can cause trouble breathing, rash with peeling skin or blisters in your mouth.  Abilify: increased risk of stroke and ministroke in elderly people with dementia-related psychosis, very high fever, rigid muscles, shaking, confusion, sweating, or increased heart rate and blood pressure, uncontrollable movements of face, tongue, or other parts of body, lightheadedness or faintness caused by a sudden change in heart rate and blood pressure when rising quickly from a sitting or lying position, decreases in white blood cells (infection fighting cells).  There’s some other stuff in there, check the advertisements (and some of this was paraphrased, so, at the behest of my legal advisors, please read the product insert and consult your physician before using any information provided at this site as medical, financial or sociological advice.

Winner:  Abilify, by a couple more hair-raising side effects.


Seriousness of Disorder in Question:

Winner:  No real winner here; I’m not one of those types who think depression is just a “suck it up, dude, things get better” kind of situation.  I believe chemical imbalances exist and are damn near impossible to deal with (RIP, B).  As a person whose two favorite passtimes are drinking cheap red wine and making -EV wagers at the craps table, I also have a soft spot for addiction.  But, given that my Dad had a 5-pack-a-day smoking habit and he dropped it cold turkey once my mom had her first bypass, I’m gonna have to give the edge to…

Winner:  …Abilify, yet again…


Hilarity of Commercial:  As Mike Singletary would say, I’ve got to look at the tape on this one.  Despite the significant edge Abilify has rung up to this point, the commercial is an opportunity to make some serious inroads.



Tough call, but I think the Chantix guy sounds a little too frantic when listing the possible negatives of his product, like he’s trying to subliminally suggest “dude, just fucking quit smoking, this shit causes dragon dreams!” while the Abilify guy is a little calmer when going over the harrowing negatives of his product.

Winner:  Chantix, by a nose (which might be bleeding or have some serious blister issues if you are taking Chantix)


How Far Would a Winter‘s Bone Character Go To Acquire the Product?:

Claims to have eaten a philly cheesesteak right before the red carpet
This scary mother fucker... also Kenny Powers' decidedly unscary brother???

Winner:  This was really just a chance to show an image of Jennifer Lawrence, who basically shut down Twitter during the Academy Awards.  Luckily, she’s from Kentucky and had such inconsequential sound bites as “I’m attracted to my brother” and…actually, I forgot any other shit she said after reinforcing the stereotype that keeps the ‘Sas one step ahead of Kentucky and Mississippi.  Also, give Teardrop a fucking Oscar already, that guy was insane in that movie.  The movie overall?  Do not recommend, too redonkulous.

Anyway, I originally thought that the methheads in Missourisas might be interested in something with nicotine properties, but once i listed to the Chantix pitch for the third time, i realized it wasn’t like an oral patch.  So I’m sure the crazy bastards would be more likely to find something bad to do with Abilify.

Winner: Abilify


Overall Winner: Abilify, for its whole body of work.


I don’t have another category, so I will offer the pharma marketing geniuses some other potential product names:

Ten Potential Names for Blockbuster Drugs-To-Be (over $1 billion in annual sales)

  1. Hardonihav – Erectile Dysfunction
  2. Onliu – Schizophrenia
  3. Unfuckifiurselv – Depression (second generation Abilify)
  4. Ididarox – Fear of sled-dog racing (not to be confused with Ididarod – the goto medicine for people who wake up and realize they slept with the Yankees’ third basemen (really just Valtrex mixed with spray tan remover))
  5. Vaselox – Running-induced Nipple Abrasion
  6. Yeastclops – Weird Eye Rash
  7. Theismax – Broken Knee
  8. Narrouraz – Obesity
  9. Wrecksneff-X – Restless Rump Disorder
  10. Notpayingattentionatol – Attention Deficit Disorder



Later, Chilly

P.S.  This didn’t turn out the way I’d expected, one of the main reasons it’s deathly dangerous to put something on the shelf in my business.  In fact, I hate this post.  But once you are this far in, you just hit Publish.  (I say business purely because Bat Rastard bought a lot of CD-RWs on amazon through my link, I’m gonna be fucking knee-deep in Beefy Crunch Burritos.)

After even further review – I really hate this post.


3 thoughts on “Pharma Marketing Battle: Chantix vs. Abilify

  1. ‘Sup, Chillster? Don’t hate on your post- I enjoyed it, and you rightly drew attention to the ridiculous ‘disclaimania’ that so often spoils what would otherwise undoubtedly be an enjoyable viewing experience (nothin’s better than commercials that discuss embarrassing and potentially disgusting medical conditions I don’t even suffer from). For what it’s worth, my grandmother’s doctor recently put her on Abilify, and now she doesn’t throw things at me when I visit her anymore.

    By the by: ‘Onliu’? Total wordplay win, dude.

  2. Sam-I-Am-Down-With-Watching-A-Rerun-of-The-Program, good to hear on the grandma front (although I’ve found once women hit “grandma” they can rarely hit over 80 mph on the radar gun, so she probably couldn’t do much damage anyhow). I hated that post enough i didn’t go back and make any changes – on to more pressing matters, like Natalie “Why The Fuck Am I In Every Movie?” Portman.

  3. Pingback: Zero Nicotine Review

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