Eli Lilly’s Oscars Commercial Takes Aim at Hollywood’s Use of Obesity Medicines for ‘Vanity’

Eli Lilly’s Oscars Commercial Takes Aim at Hollywood’s Use of Obesity Medicines for ‘Vanity’

Eli Lilly’s new obesity drug commercial that dropped during the Oscars this past weekend targets folks in Hollywood who have been using GLP-1 receptor agonists for cosmetic weight loss.

As the stars lined up on Hollywood Boulevard for the Oscars on Sunday evening, Eli Lilly took the stage with a TV ad that took shots at Hollywood’s latest weight loss frenzy — GLP-1 drugs.

Lilly, maker of GLP-1 receptor agonists for diabetes and weight loss — Mounjaro (tirzepatide) and Zepbound (tirzepatide), respectively — created and timed the commercials for Hollywood’s biggest night of the year.

The company’s 30-second Oscar-themed ad, called “Big Night,” takes aim at people inside and outside of Hollywood, but mostly in Hollywood and showbiz, who have been lapping up the drugs for aesthetic, non-medical purposes.

The commercial begins with a shot of someone straightening a shiny sequined gown, followed by images of an auditorium with red seats and a red carpet. The voiceover calls out how “some people have been using medicine never meant for them, for the smaller dress or tux, for a big night, for vanity. But that’s not the point.”

From camera flashbulbs on the red carpet, the ad then cuts to a scene of a woman on a subway, representing the intended consumer or patient of the medicines.

The takeaway message of Lilly’s commercial was direct and poignant: “People whose health is affected by obesity are the reason we work on these medications.” And hence “it matters who gets them.”

Novo Nordisk’s GLP-1 diabetes drug Ozempic (semaglutide) seemingly sparked the weight loss frenzy in Hollywood and beyond after it was found the injection had weight loss as a side effect.

This led people to seek it off-label for cosmetic weight loss, a phenomenon many say is partly to blame for the current shortages of both Novo and Lilly’s GLP-1 drugs. This has sparked criticism as those who need the medicines to manage their type 2 diabetes or obesity are facing challenges in accessing them. Novo’s weight loss version of Ozempic is branded Wegovy (semaglutide).

Related: New Wegovy TV Commercial Launched After Pause to Deal with High Demand

Lilly issued an open letter ahead of the event in which the company stated its drugs Mounjaro and Zepbound “are indicated for the treatment of serious diseases” and “are not approved for — and should not be used for — cosmetic weight loss.”

Lilly said it doesn’t endorse use of the medications “outside of a medicine’s FDA-approved indication.”

This isn’t the first time the GLP-1 drugs made it to the Oscars. Last year, comedian and host Jimmy Kimmel dropped Ozempic’s name at the awards show, musing, “Everybody looks so great. When I look around this room, I can’t help but wonder, ‘Is Ozempic right for me?’”

Lilly’s other TV commercial launched last week is titled “Shame,” which depicts a series of candid, real-life scenarios illustrating the challenges faced by individuals dealing with obesity.

The commercial follows a woman recounting the shame she experienced over her body since she was young, something that “stayed like a shadow, living in the glances of people I loved and ones I didn’t even know, always reminding me of my body’s supposed value.” The ad shows scenes of the glances of loved ones at a dinner table and strangers on public transit.

The woman then asks, “But what good is shame when it comes to health?” And that, “Health is not about what we lose. It’s about all the things a body can gain.”

The ad ends with the message, “Obesity is a matter of health. Shame has no place in it.”

The ads are part of Lilly’s latest phase of its ‘Get Better Campaign,’ which the company says draws attention to “misperceptions about obesity care.”

In a statement, Lilly’s global chief customer officer Jennifer Oleksiw said the company’s two new films, “Shame” and “Big Night,” showcase its “point of view around obesity — emphasizing our commitment to patients by highlighting the seriousness of this disease and the appropriate use of anti-obesity medicines.”

The company said “Shame” was launched during Obesity Care Week (March 4 – 8, 2024) to help “increase the dialogue about obesity as a serious disease and reinforce that there is no place for shame in the conversation around it.”

And “Big Night” was released at the Oscars, addressing “a topic that has been part of the cultural dialogue at recent high-profile awards ceremonies: the use of anti-obesity medications outside their FDA-approved indications.” The company stressed that, “Patient safety is Lilly’s top priority, and our medicines are indicated for the treatment of serious diseases.”

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