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The Creation of the Purple Pill


Having created the Purple Pill called Prilosec, we needed to get lightening to strike twice. We had to leverage all of the purple equity from Prilosec and move ½ million patients over to Nexium by convincing them that Nexium was better - without saying it. We built the new brand around a healing claim for erosive esophagitis (EE) implying a greater efficacy for heartburn.


For the launch campaign we created a product-is-hero campaign. Three commercials, all with different visual metaphors, demonstrated the dangers of prolonged acid reflux and the healing powers of Nexium. Fueled by the insight that patients were unaware of just how dangerous heartburn could be, we converted 500,000 people in just six months. Two subsequent campaigns took a less dire approach. We leaned into a more patient centric insight – life was different for people with acid reflux – because their eating, sleeping and social lives were affected by the condition. By the end of 2009 Nexium had global sales of over 5 billion dollars.