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Health & Pharma Public Relations (PR) Marketing

The Ozempic boom will revolutionize way more than the health sector

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By Gordon Young, Editor-in-Chief

June 13, 2024 | 6 min read

The increasing prominence of weight loss drugs like Ozempic will have far-reaching repercussions on brand strategies across the board. The Drum’s editor-in-chief, Gordon Young, prepares us for the coming opportunities.

A clutch of epi-pens on a table

With a Labour supermajority looming in the UK, expect a wave of interventionist policies targeting obesity. We may be about to see a blitz on junk food ads and tighter restrictions on fast food outlets, especially in the UK. However, current policymakers might be missing the seismic shift on the horizon: the GLP-1 weight-loss revolution, which is already making waves in the US.

Last week in New York, I had the pleasure of meeting Loris Repellin, chief of staff of Havas Health and Havas Creative Networks, and Julia Mayer-Janovic, head of communications. They argue that GLP-1 drugs suppress appetite and are as revolutionary as the smartphone or even AI. By 2030, they predict close to 10% of Americans will be on these drugs or something similar. Repellin and Mayer-Janovic insist no business or government policy will escape its impact. Those who don’t adapt might not survive.

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In response, Havas is practicing what it preaches. It has restructured and launched three distinct offerings: Havas Life, Havas Lynx, and Jacques (named after ad legend Jacques Séguéla). Repellin believes every brand will need health expertise to navigate this new world. “From airlines to clothing to sneakers to life insurance. We believe Havas is uniquely positioned to play a significant role in this revolution,” he said.

The economic impact of GLP-1 drugs goes beyond health. J.P. Morgan projects the GLP-1 market will top $100bn by 2030, driven by diabetes and obesity usage. Companies like Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly are set to dominate, potentially capturing half the market. The demand is already outstripping supply, underlining their transformative potential.

GLP-1 drugs will change consumer behavior. As people lose weight, sectors like fashion, food and beverage, and cosmetic surgery will feel the ripple effects. Repellin noted, “People will need new wardrobes as they lose weight. The fashion industry must adapt or risk obsolescence.”

The food and beverage industry, particularly protein supplement makers, must also evolve. These drugs dampen cravings for unhealthy foods. Mayer-Janovic observed, “People on GLP-1 drugs tend to lose muscle along with fat, so there’s going to be a surge in demand for protein-infused foods and drinks to help maintain muscle.” This shift represents a golden opportunity for brands that can innovate.

The dating industry might also see changes as people become more confident in their appearance, potentially boosting engagement on dating platforms.

The transformative effects of GLP-1 drugs could lead to a paradigm shift in healthcare. They’re effective not only for weight loss but also for managing chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease. This dual benefit could reshape how healthcare providers and insurers approach treatment and prevention.

The broader community, including healthcare professionals, market analysts, and industry experts, acknowledges the significant economic and societal impacts of GLP-1 drugs. Their rapid adoption and expanding usage are expected to drive major change. The combination of healthcare benefits and economic opportunities presents a unique and transformative scenario for the future. As the Labour Party gears up to implement stricter policies around fast food and advertising, the more immediate revolution of GLP-1 drugs must not be overlooked. In a world where these drugs augment self-control and empower individuals to manage their weight more effectively, the necessity of draconian measures like advertising bans is questionable.

This trend is just as relevant for US policymakers and businesses. My gut reaction is to oppose such bans–they arguably don’t combat obesity but definitely mean slimmer pickings for the ad and media industry. And once the government starts down this road, they might not stop at junk foods. Fossil fuels, alcohol, and airlines could be next in the crosshairs.

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From a brand perspective, Repellin argues, “We are on the brink of a revolution. Every brand must navigate this change, or it will be left behind.”

This sentiment is equally relevant to government policy, which will be just as impacted.

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