In a rare move for a device maker, Boston Scientific aired its first TV advertisement in four U.S. markets this spring.
The ad, for the company’s stroke-fighting Watchman device, aired in Detroit, Phoenix, San Diego and Tampa, the Boston Globe reported. Aimed at the families of older adults with atrial fibrillation, it depicts a woman driving her father to the hospital, where a doctor tells them about the Watchman left atrial appendage closure device.
Afib causes blood to collect in a region of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA), where it can form a clot, which can lead to a stroke. Many afib patients take a blood thinner to prevent this from happening, but they are at risk of severe bleeding.
The Watchman device is implanted in the LAA to permanently seal it off and prevent clots from escaping and causing a stroke. It is the only FDA-approved device of its kind.
Ads for pharmaceuticals have become par for the course in American television—a spot for AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo’s Movantik, which treats opioid-induced constipation, aired during last year’s Super Bowl, for example—but devicemakers tend to avoid consumer marketing.
While there was “a lot of hand-wringing” over whether to air the ad, the company deemed it important to educate afib patients about treatments for the condition, the Globe reported.
“This is a very socially impactful ad,” Boston Sci’s Chief Medical Officer Ian Meredith told the Globe. “It’s really identifying that there’s an alternative for people who can’t take anti-coagulation or who are struggling with anti-coagulation [medicines]. And a lot of primary care doctors don’t realize this option’s available.”
The Watchman ad is part of Boston Sci’s efforts to position itself as a major player in an industry that is consolidating.
“Hospitals want to drive great outcomes, and they also want to save money. So what they’re typically doing is reducing down the number of suppliers that they work with,” CEO Mike Mahoney told the Globe. “What’s most important to us is to have very differentiated products so that when Mass. General or whoever picks partners, we’re part of the answer.”
The company is assessing the effectiveness of the ad and weighing whether to air it in additional markets.