AstraZeneca's 'Walter the Dino' for its Airsupra brand is one of several new pharma characters debuting this year.

Mon­sters, di­nosaurs and su­per­heroes: Why phar­ma is bring­ing char­ac­ters back in­to the ad mix 

For years, an­i­mat­ed mas­cots, like the glow­ing Lunes­ta but­ter­fly land­ing soft­ly on a pil­low and Xi­fax­an’s pink in­tes­tine “Gut Guy” scur­ry­ing off to the re­stroom dur­ing the Su­per Bowl, have been com­mon in phar­ma ads.

But in 2016, the FDA pub­licly ques­tioned whether “per­son­i­fied non­hu­man char­ac­ters” in phar­ma ads skewed per­cep­tions of drug risks and ben­e­fits. Cou­pled with on­line crit­i­cism about mas­cots in pre­scrip­tion drug ads, in­clud­ing two in Su­per Bowl com­mer­cials that year, the use of char­ac­ters be­gan to wane.

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