Beavers, Bubbles, Bees, and Moths: An Examination of Animated Spokescharacters in DTC Prescription-Drug Advertisements and Websites

Kartik Pashupati
Southern Methodist University

INTRODUCTION

In November 2006, Warner Brothers released Happy Feet, a film that featured computer-animated penguins as its main characters. Reportedly, the movie marked the first time that a motion picture had a formal marketing tie-in with a prescription drug.

The movie's animated penguins appeared prominently in print and broadcast advertisements promoting the website www.flufacts.com (and on the website itself) sponsored by the Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche, the maker of Tamiflu—an antiviral drug available by prescription only. Roche's director of public relations, Terence Hurley, said that his company adopted this nontraditional approach toward marketing because of the nature of the movie (it was family entertainment) and the timing of its release (winter, a season traditionally associated with the onset of influenza) (Slatko, 2006).