CNN Prescribes New Eli Lilly Commercials For Glen Campbell Documentary

Glen Campbell Ill Be Me Movie

CNN has a new advertising prescription: Take a documentary about a music star afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease and mix it with a pharmaceutical sponsor that wants consumers to recognize its efforts to find a cure for the devastating ailment.

When the Time Warner-owned cable-news network airs “Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me,” on Sunday, June 28, it will do so under very rare circumstances. The movie looks at singer Glen Campbell, best known for songs like “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Gentle on My Mind,” and his struggle with the ravages of the disease. It will air with only a limited number of commercials, marking the first time CNN has ever aired a film in that fashion (though it has done similar things for select series and special reports). Pitches tied to Eli Lilly & Co.’s efforts to find a cure for the problem will appear just before the film starts, at one point in the middle of the documentary, and then just after it ends.

Watching the documentary is bound to be an emotional experience for someone who has a friend or family member who suffers from the disease, said Phyllis Barkman Ferrell, Eli Lilly’s global Alzheimer’s disease team leader. “We don’t want it to feel like a pharmaceutical direct-to-consumer advertisement,” she said, adding: “We didn’t want to have that emotional experience interrupted.”

The deal is the latest by CNN that attempts to create very unique kinds of advertising tied directly to a specific piece of programming. In March of last year, the network enlisted Allstate to serve as a “presenting sponsor” of the eight-part series “Chicagoland.” In the first ad break of the first episode, Tom Wilson, Allstate’s chairman, president and CEO, appeared and spoke directly to viewers about the show.

Such commercials likely could not appear in another program or on another network and be as relevant or effective. CNN wants to attract more “bespoke content and sponsorships,” said Katrina Cukaj, executive vice president of advertising sales for CNN.

As part of the pact, Lilly is taking part in “tune in” promotional efforts to get viewers to watch the documentary. CNN promos that began running this week prod viewers to visit a digital site devoted to “I’ll Be Me,” where CNN health journalists are posting content about Alzheimer’s. The site will soon feature only ads from Eli Lilly, which also is offering sponsored content. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, appears in some of the promos.

Eli Lilly will not tout any specific medications in the three commercials it runs June 28, said Ferrell. Instead, the company is eager to develop a community of people interested in the disease while highlighting the importance of checking with doctors when potential symptoms surface and of taking part in clinical trials that aim to treat Alzheimer’s. Such marketing techniques are often tapped by pharmaceutical companies to get people interested in medications they may have to offer at a later date.

“We want this to be our gift to patients and people suffering from this disease,” said Ferrell. “We are not asking something of them. We are trying to give something to them.”

The three ads shown during the documentary will include a 30-second spot featuring Eli Lilly CEO John C. Lechleiter talking about why the company is sponsoring the movie; a 30-second spot that pushes viewers to visit a Web page devoted to the film; and a 75-second public service announcement from Ron Peterson, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, discussing new developments in research. Lilly worked with Omnicom Group’s OMD to place the commercials while Interpublic Group’s FCB helped craft some of the ads.

The three ads will also run in a second airing of the documentary on CNN in November, but the program will be accompanied by a more typical load of commercials.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 1

Leave a Reply

1 Comment

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. You have to be kidding me!!!! If it were not for Eli Lilly Glen Campbell would not be suffering the symptoms of Alzheimer’s! What i mean by that is that Eli Lilly is who introduced the SSRI antidepressants to the market paving the way for the antidepressant Lexapro Glen was taking when arrested in Arizona in 2003 for a nit and run, DUI and assault on a police officer. His alcohol levels were high, double the legal limit – one thing I have always found to be a sign there is an antidepressant-induced compulsion for the alcohol – a far too common adverse reaction to these newer antidepressant drugs.

    Much has been said about Glen’s long battle with depression making it clear he continued taking antidepressants because no one ever noticed the serious side effects he was having to them. Long term use of antidepressants will very often lead to such severe memory loss that the patient is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. In fact we have a Facebook group called Antidepressant-Induced Alzheimer’s and Memory Loss.

    So now Eli Lilly is going to use the memory problems they have caused so many to market a new drug for the memory loss they should be held responsible for? They sure know how to bring in business!

More TV News from Variety

Loading