Online Healthcare Companies Increase Advertising for Morning-After Pill
Companies that sell sexual health products and medicines over the internet are shifting their marketing strategies to highlight the availability of mail-order emergency contraception, commonly known as morning-after pills.
Some are also using their emergency birth control advertising to protest government moves against reproductive rights, including the Supreme Court’s elimination of the constitutional right to an abortion when it overturned Roe v. Wade.
Hey Favor Inc., a direct-to-consumer provider of birth control including emergency contraception, pregnancy tests and skin-care products, has lately directed much of its marketing budget into advocacy campaigns promoting abortion rights. Its newest out-of-home ads, which began running two weeks ago in anticipation of the high court ruling, argue that the end of the federal constitutional right to abortion foreshadows future limits on contraception.
“They are coming for your abortion,” says one ad from the company, which does business as Favor. “Your birth control is next.”
The campaign is Favor’s first since it rebranded in May from the Pill Club. While the company in that guise did advertise its emergency contraception, its marketing had focused more on ads for contraceptive prescriptions.
Unlike pills that are taken to induce an abortion in the early stages of pregnancy, morning-after pills temporarily stop the ovaries from releasing an egg in the days following unprotected sex, thereby preventing fertilization. They are legal in every state.
The new, more-political campaigns advertising direct-to-consumer emergency contraception are rolling out as companies including
CVS Health Corp.
begin rationing the pills amid a surge in demand. Some online providers are encouraging customers to stock up for later emergencies.
Favor is letting customers purchase up to 10 courses of emergency contraception per order and make additional reorders without limit.
“Given the timing of the [Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization] ruling, which we expected shortly following our rebrand, we felt strongly that our first advertising campaign out of the gate should educate patients, women and people who menstruate about what was at stake, how to access care, and how to prepare for a post-Roe world, without bias,” said Lauren Scrima, head of brand marketing at Favor.
Female-focused healthcare brands such as Get Stix Inc., which does business as Stix, and Nurx, which in February merged with healthcare company Thirty Madison Inc., have funneled their marketing budgets into campaigns designed to explain how emergency birth control works, spotlight its availability online and dispel misconceptions that it is a form of early abortion.
Stix, which also sells pregnancy tests, supplements and medication for reproductive health, has reallocated its digital marketing budget to advertise Restart, its own morning-after pill released on June 21, said co-founder and co-Chief Executive Jamie Norwood.
The company last week launched its first out-of-home campaign, posting ads for Restart alongside reproductive-rights messaging on billboards within 5 miles of crisis pregnancy centers in states that readied abortion bans for the moment Roe v. Wade was overturned via so-called trigger laws. Such centers often aim to dissuade visitors from having abortions.
Previous Stix campaigns did not touch upon abortion rights, Ms. Norwood said. “We focused more on the value propositions of our individual products and left politics out,” she said.
Stix also hired PR agency Jennifer Bett Communications to spread the word about Restart, as well as customers’ ability to stock up on the morning-after pill due to its shelf life of up to 20 months, particularly in the 13 states that had trigger laws in place, Ms. Norwood said.
The company processed 10 times more orders of Restart on Monday than it did last Friday, Ms. Norwood said. Just over 72% of purchases made on Monday included more than one dose, she said. The company is not limiting how many pills a customer can order.
Nurx, which offers treatments for skin-care and depression as well as birth control, saw requests for emergency contraception quadruple after a draft of the Roe v. Wade ruling was leaked in May, according to Kelly Gardiner, vice president of communications at parent Thirty Madison.
“We expect to see numbers even higher now that the Supreme Court has officially handed down their ruling and folks make long-term plans for how to support their healthcare decisions,” Ms. Gardiner said. The company is limiting customers to five pills per order to manage demand and ensure equitable access, she said.
Nurx has shifted its marketing plan to focus on education around emergency contraception, publishing guides to how it works, creating a flowchart to help customers understand when and whether they need to take it, and investing in paid search and social-media advertising to target those with questions around unprotected sex and pregnancy.
Before the Roe v. Wade leak, the company more evenly marketed all its products and services, including at-home test kits and the HIV-prevention pill known as PrEP, Ms. Gardiner said.
The company also lowered the price of its morning-after pill, called New Day, to $14.99 from $20, Ms. Gardiner said.
“We really wanted to make it more affordable for folks who need to stock up,” she said.
Write to Katie Deighton at [email protected]
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