Connecting Hollywood + Healthcare

How Effective are Celebrity Drug Endorsements?

The Amy Doner Group helps clients find the right balance for a celebrity drug endorsement.

marg helgenberger
michael strahan
jo frost
cyndi lauper


If celebrities are managing their health a certain way – and includes taking certain prescription medications for what ails them – is that right for me? That’s a question a celebrity can help someone contemplate, but only a medical professional can help to validate.

Celebrity drug endorsements are designed to responsibly spur additional thinking or action among the public about their own health, but in no way meant to replace the all-important dialogue with one’s own medical professional. Patients can take what they have learned and consider their own symptoms (or those of their loved ones) to then think about the right questions to ask.

Owning the Non-Branded Space…

The goal of driving others to see their medical professional because they might have symptoms can also be the tenet of a non-branded call-to-action health awareness campaign, and be equally as effective as a branded platform. This can be especially beneficial when looking to drive awareness in a new therapeutic category, or perhaps one less understood.

An added personal connection through a family member or good friend can also be considered. And, such promotion does not have the same regulatory requirements as to pharmaceutical products directly. This also allows for a greater bandwidth to choose from when selecting the ideal celebrity, as a company does not necessarily seem to find someone who has taken a particular medication, but rather who has just been affected with its related medical condition.

The most classic example of this approach as a success story –and still often mentioned to this day -- was when Katie Couric underwent a colonoscopy on live television well more than a decade ago. This issue was quite relatable to Katie, as she lost her husband to the disease a few years earlier. This one, singular event alone caused the rates of colonoscopy by the public to sharply increase by about 20% in the months that followed.

A Whole Is A Sum Of Its Parts…

What is important to know, however, is that whether branded or non-branded, the manufacturer needs to determine whether the cost of a celebrity is a value-add to their entire marketing communications initiative. The Amy Doner Group helps clients find the right balance to determine if use of celebrity endorsements can sit at the helm of an integrated marketing communications campaign, or one effective piece of the overall mix supplemented with advertising, content and social media marketing. It is also critical to assess a return-on-investment component to measure the success of the program, allowing for it to be then be tweaked along the way, or in the future, if necessary.

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