How Contraceptive Brands Are Increasing Online Advertising Since SCOTUS Overturned Roe v. wade
As discussions about the future of abortion access in the United States continue, makers of popular birth control and birth control methods have stepped up advertising on social media platforms like Facebook and TikTok, as well as on various streaming platforms.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, brands such as Plan B, Phexxi and Favor have in some cases doubled or even quadrupled online advertising to reach and educate consumers while combating misinformation about women’s health. The figures also show how spending has changed in the weeks since the High Court ruling and paint a picture of the online battleground beyond the main topic of abortion.
In the first half of this year, ad spend on birth control and contraceptives was 130% higher than the same time last year, according to ad tracking firm MediaRadar, topping 144, $7 million between $120 million for birth control brands and an additional $25 million for contraceptives. Monthly expenses were also higher that year. According to MediaRadar, total advertising in May 2022 was $34.7 million, more than double the $14.5 million spent in May 2021, while June advertising grew to $30.3 million in 2022, compared to $13.3 million in 2021.
Increase in expenses
Last month, a group of 13 major contraceptive advertisers nearly doubled their spending from $2.74 million in June to $5.25 million in July, according to Digiday’s analysis of data provided by Pathmatics, which tracks spending on social media, OTT devices and other formats such as mobile. display and desktop video ads. The week following the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, advertisers collectively spent just $552,000 before spending $1.3 million a week later and $2.78 million the following week.
According to data from Pathmatics, several major birth control companies spent more on advertising in the second quarter of 2022 than in the first quarter. For example, Foundation Consumer Healthcare, the creator of Plan B, increased its ad spend from $2.2 million in Q1 2022 to $2.734 million. AbbVie Inc. increased ad spend for Lo Loestrin from $997,000 to $1.46 million. TherapeuticsMD, owner of Annovera, nearly doubled its spending from $484,000 to $958,000 and Evofem Biosciences increased its spending for Phexxi from $103,000 to $202,000. (Digiday reached out to each company for comment and additional context on the spending changes, but did not receive a response.)
Another company that has increased advertising is Favor, the direct-to-consumer birth control provider that was renamed The Pill Club earlier this year. Although the company did not disclose its ad spend, data from Pathmatics showed Favor increased its spend fivefold, from $72,000 in the first quarter to $415,000 in the second quarter.
In addition to outdoor ads focused on the states most likely to be affected by the court ruling, Favor worked with dozens of influencers to reach audiences nationwide, reaching beyond their creators. of typical lifestyle content by recruiting more people who can solve social problems. For example, Favor worked with comedian Liz Boardlawyer Alicia lunch and app developer Sofia Ongele to interview men on the street and post the videos on TikTok.
“We wanted to highlight the absurdity of a stranger making a decision on behalf of your body asking politicians or ordinary men on the street to be mandated to have a vasectomy,” said Lauren Scrima, Marketing Manager at Favor, in an interview. “What if you had no choice?” Because it’s a similar concept to what we see with abortion rights.
Top contraceptive advertising spend by platform, according to data from Pathmatics
- OTT ads: $7.6 million
- Facebook: $4.4 million
- Instagram: $3.7 million
- TikTok: $2.3 million
- Snapchat: $2.2 million
Bayer Healthcare, owner of Kyleena, also doubled its spending from $681,000 in the first quarter to $1.38 million in the second quarter. However, from June to July, he reduced his spending from $441,000 to $159,000. Although the company declined an interview, a spokesperson said in an email that the company is “deeply committed to inclusion, diversity, equity and access” and that “The importance of access to contraception and education is central to our advertising strategy throughout the year.”
Although much of the discussion since the court ruling has focused on access to abortion, Michelle Goodwin, a law professor at the University of California-Irvine, said insufficient attention has focused on the impact of the Supreme Court decision on other issues such as access to contraceptives. Goodwin – the author of the 2020 book, ‘Policing The Womb’ – said companies that make and sell products like IUDs and Plan B have a real interest in ensuring the public is properly informed about safety and the effectiveness of various methods. Additionally, potential bans on contraceptives in various states have been “wake-up calls” for companies supplying them.
“It’s like there’s a Supreme Court ruling on gas-powered vehicles, but kind of gives a hint that it might also ban some forms of electric vehicles,” Goodwin said.
While some industries can quickly create new marketing messages that adapt to current events, it’s not as easy for highly regulated pharmaceutical brands that must receive FDA approval for every ad they want to run.
Andrea Palmer, president of Publicis Health Media, said some contraceptive advertisers transfer money to be on TikTok and other platforms where people talk about women’s health, including topics like abortion and pregnancy. contraception. Along with embracing cultural conversations, Palmer said it’s also part of fighting misinformation on the topics: “You can find YouTube videos to support anything, it’s scary.”
“Misinformation has been a hot topic and hot topic for the past two years,” Palmer said. “And while that’s not surprising, it amplifies the need for brand marketers to think about how money should follow the conversation.”
Misinformation is a growing concern for marketers, women’s health advocates and researchers. For example, a recent NewsGuard report found more than 100 disinformation videos on TikTok about women’s health that had collectively been viewed by approximately 18 million people on the platform and had earned more than 3 million likes. Analysts have also found examples of accounts finding ways to circumvent censors on TikTok or through videos appearing in Google searches.
Not all contraceptive makers have taken the plunge. Brands that declined in the second quarter were Merck & Co. cut ad spend for Nexplanon by $1.5 million to $879,000 and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries cut spend for its Paragard brand by $759,000. at $547,000.
Perhaps one of the most notable changes so far this year was when condom owner Trojan Church & Dwight Co. sold $142,000 in July. (The company did not respond to a request for comment on its ad spend or marketing strategy.)
There also remain unanswered questions about how the Supreme Court’s decision on abortion could allow states to ban various forms of contraceptive advertising. Goodwin, the UCI law professor, also noted another Supreme Court case decided just a few years after Roe v. Wade when a 1977 ruling struck down a New York state law banning advertising for contraceptives.
“A troubling aspect of these times is that in the wake of Dobbs, there’s so much that’s going to be revamped,” she said.