For decades, companies of all sorts have tried to incorporate characters for their brand, and each one of them has got a story to tell. May it be a friendly-looking, weird, funny, or creepy mascot, they surely create the brand identity of a certain product.
When you think of a great corporate mascot, one representing a pharmaceutical company probably won’t be one of the first ones that come to your mind. Aside from Ronald McDonald by McDonald’s and The King by Burger King, pharmaceutical companies also believe that characters can bring about life to their brand identity. Hence, we may be unaware of it, but there are also TV ads that have fascinating or funny stories to portray when marketing their products.
What makes this especially interesting to me is that here in Australia, we don’t get to see these too often. It is my understanding that we do not do commercials for prescription medication here, but in the USA where most of these products are advertised, there seems to be no shortage of drug company mascots and commercials.
Novartis Lamisil’s Digger the Dermatophyte
This is not the first time I’ve written about Digger the Dermatophyte. Digger is one of Novartis’ creations to portray how the fungus can cause your toenails to decay. Digger can be called a villain, waiting to get in between nails that might cause possible infections. In Novartis’ commercial, Digger shows how he and his dermatophyte friends go inside toenails and inhabit them which may cause ingrown toenails, and worst, a dead one. The company used this cartoon character to market their prescription medicine called Lamisil (which then became an over-the-counter prescription), used to treat symptoms of fungus in toenails and fingernails. Thus, once taken, Digger will be out of sight in no time.
Rapaflo’s Wally the Prostate Mascot
Yes, you read that right. There is a prostate mascot and has been in commercials back in the day. Wally the Prostate Mascot looks like a walnut (and don’t even imagine what your prostate looks like), who claims to know and talk to men about urinary issues. This marketing ambassador by RAPAFLO® was quite cute but found to be misleading, as Wally definitely resembles the features of a walnut. If you ever happen to see the TV ad, the story went when a man had trouble sleeping because of urinary issues, and went to the bathroom only to see Wally speaking to him.
Oh well, seems quite conventional for a walnut… the n-u-t that men have. Ha!
Abilify’s Blue Robe Mascot
A mascot that moves and haunts like Casper the friendly ghost, Abilify® has devised a character to show simply how their antidepressant medicine can help with mental and emotional concerns. However, the Blue Robe is just like your typical ghost, haunting you down and crawling into your skin so you can be depressed again. The commercial shows a woman going outside, while the Blue Robe chases her even after weeks of using another product to address her concern. But thanks to this company’s medicine, the Blue Robe can sulk down underground so you can feel emotionally stable again.
Too simple? Perhaps they could make a better one.
Dulcolax’s Prisoner Poop People
Whilst not quite a mascot the way the others in this list are, It’s hard not to mention the poop-people.
Probably the most awkward ad of 2014, Dulcolax® has made it to the charts by presenting a story of poop-headed characters with human-like bodies for their commercial. The ad starts with a vignette sepia colour tone and then reveals turd prisoners, circling a hole which happens to be… oh, no need to tell you. The turds are seen patiently waiting to come out, set like prisoners, wanting to be in the open as soon as possible. Hence, it is a portrayal of constipation, and apparently, the brand’s product can set them free. As their tagline says, “Only you can set them free.”.
Constipated? Your prisoners are waiting.
Xifaxan’s Bubble Gut
This character by Xifaxan® looks like bubble gum and has a pink tone to it. By the looks of the mascot, maybe you are wondering why it looks like some twisted bubble gum, but it is not. Xifaxan is a treatment for irritable bowel syndrome; the character actually imitates a twisted gut (the feeling we all have when our visit to the bathroom isn’t like the usual). While the mascot looks unusual with a face like a dinosaur, some have found it adorable and likely huggable. Love him or hate him, but the bubble gut gets quite noticeable as you stare at it.
He’s not the bad guy here! The Bubble Gut just amplifies how you feel when your bowel isn’t good.
Spiriva’s Elephant Commercial
Though this mascot might seem just normal, it’s unusual to be used for ads regarding inhalers. Spiriva®, a pharmaceutical company that sells inhalers for pulmonary disorders, used an actual elephant to show what it feels like to have such a disorder. There has been a series of commercials around, where the elephant sits on a person’s chest when they do not have an inhaler with them. It might be pretty unusual, but it’s a direct and on-point portrayal of having your airways blocked because of lung disorders.
Elephants might be cute, but letting them sit on your chest? Terrifying!
Myrbetriq’s Bladder Mascot
A character that looks like Mike Wazowski in Monsters Inc, the Annoying Bladder resembles the character but with pink skin; M&M’s if you would liken it to another character. You might be wondering how annoying he is. Well, he pulls people to the bathroom because of the outbursts in the bladder. This Myrbetriq® commercial is to remind everyone that it is not good to hold your bladder, as it might lead to unwanted complications in the long run. They also have a tagline, “Run, Pee!”, and now you know why.
Do you go to the restroom more often than usual? The annoying bladder might be pulling you!
Belsomra Sleep/Wake Creatures
An ad for sleeping and waking agents to stabilize your neurons, Belsomra® incorporated cat-like creatures into their commercial. It shows a woman having pets that look like felines, but with the “sleep” and “wake” words composing its body. Apparently, the prescription drug claims to better your sleep and waking patterns, and thus the “sleep” cat cuddles with you at night and the “wake” cat goes around with you during the morning. Well, we know that cats can get bitchy sometimes, and so do our rest and wake patterns. Ain’t it?
But really, why the weird-looking cat-like creatures?
Pristiq Wind Up Doll
In 2009, pharmaceutical company Pristiq® innovated dolls for their commercial. For a company that sells antidepressants, they made sure they’ve got a story to tell using a wind-up doll. The commercial was reflective of people suffering from depression, with a need to just autopilot or somehow those who feel like they are moving around soullessly. Thus, suffering people may feel like a wind-up doll, just moving but crept out by sadness and negative emotions altogether.
Although depression is a sensitive topic to portray, it was a genius way to reach out to those in need of help. Way to go!
Many brands, regardless of their target market and products, also incorporate company mascots with their identity. So much as the power to be known, company mascots present a part of the brand identity of a company to boost up and be known to people. Thus, it is always important to make sure the mascots aren’t boring or disgusting enough —- making the mascots simple but witty is always the key as this will gain new potential for sales and brand loyalty.