Why big pharma uses celebrity spokespeople

Tennis phenom Serena Williams and reality television star Khloe Kardashian are the latest celebrities to be tapped by drugmakers for pharmaceutical marketing campaigns, according to Insider.

Drugmakers in the U.S., the only country other than New Zealand allowed to market prescription medication directly to consumers, sometimes use celebrity spokespeople in their marketing campaigns to make their products stand out and engage consumers with a figure they know. This summer, Ms. Williams and Ms. Kardashian partnered with AbbVie and Biohaven, respectively, to promote migraine medication. Other celebrities who appear in pharmaceutical advertisements include Cyndi Lauper, Shaquille O'Neal and Ray Liotta.

Amy Doner, the president of a group that facilitates contracts between drugmakers and celebrities, told Insider that once a drugmaker gains FDA approval, they will contact her business with a list of demographics that fit their target audience. Ms. Doner said her team will use that information to find a celebrity to whom that market will respond well, a figure who often has or is close to someone with the disease the drug treats.

"It can really range from $50,000 to $10 million," Ms. Doner told Insider of how much celebrities typically earn from pharmaceutical campaigns.

Drugmakers often partner with celebrities for non-branded campaigns as well. For example, television star Julianne Hough conducted a series of public service announcements in 2017 about her endometriosis diagnosis to create awareness about the disease, since many women are unknowingly living with it. Ms. Hough was compensated by AbbVie, the drugmaker who produces endometriosis drug Orilissa, for speaking out, according to Insider

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