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Actor Anthony Anderson is a long-time Novo Nordisk spokesman and Type 2 diabetes advocate. As the star of the hit TV show “Black-ish,” Anderson first teamed with Novo for the original “Get Real About Diabetes” campaign launch in 2018. The effort debuted around a special episode of “Black-ish” in which Anderson’s character , Andre “Dre” Johnson, is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Fast forward to 2022, and Anderson, who was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2002, is continuing on with the next iteration of the campaign, speaking up in a new “Get Real” TV ad with a distinctively harder-hitting tone about the cardiovascular risks of the disease.

“As someone living with Type 2 diabetes, I want to keep it real and talk about some risks,” Anderson says in the TV ad opening. “People with Type 2 diabetes have a 4 times greater risk of stroke, heart attack or death,” he says. Then he points to a hospital bed, a wheelchair and lastly, a loud flatlining cardiac monitor as places that patients may end up.

“Too much?” he says, looking directly into the camera. “That’s the point.”

Mark Materacky, Novo Nordisk VP of consumer marketing, said with Anderson’s range as an actor and his personal credibility, he was the right person to deliver the new messaging.

“His story is so authentic that we felt he could deliver this bold, breakthrough hard-hitting message to try to get people more aware – and create the seriousness needed around the topic to give people a sense of urgency to talk with their doctor,” Materacky said.

The campaign update coincidentally comes as Anderson is changing acting roles, moving from the affable dad in the “Black-ish” sitcom that recently ended after 8 seasons and going back to his dramatic turn as a New York city detective on “Law & Order. ” Materacky said the Type 2 campaign change up was not planned around that, but rather was simply a “happy coincidence.”

The original campaign was created around Anderson and his desire to raise awareness especially among African Americans who are disproportionately affected by Type 2 diabetes. The new campaign centers more on the cardiovascular risks for everyone living with diabetes, although all the original content with Anderson and videos around eating healthy, staying active and creating a treatment plan with a healthcare provider remains on the Get Real website. Additional added elements there include a cardiovascular risk focus on the landing page as well as a new cardiovascular doctor discussion guide.

Along with the TV ad and website, the work will run on social media and in digital ads while Anderson will also do media interviews as part of the effort through the rest of the year and likely into 2023, Materacky said.

Although the campaign launched only recently, some feedback from healthcare providers has tricked in with a “very positive reception” for the tougher messaging.

“In the past, it was more everyday relatable, and we were sort of that friend putting their arm around you and helping you with healthy eating and healthy lifestyles – a lot of the day-to-day living with Type 2 diabetes,” he said. “But we really wanted to elevate the importance of this risk factor because people aren’t taking the action of speaking with their healthcare provider.”

Hey’s right. Despite multiple pharma company and advocacy organizations’ awareness-raising efforts, cardiovascular risks still face low awareness among Type 2 patients. Only half of people aged 45 and older who are living with Type 2 diabetes recognize their risk or have discussed their risk for heart attacks or strokes with their health care team, according to a 2021 study by The Harris Poll for the American Heart Association.

Even worse is little is being done – the AHA reports only 20% of people living with Type 2 diabetes are meeting suggested lifestyle targets around exercise, diet, monitoring blood sugar and abstaining from smoking and alcohol to reduce heart disease risks.

The “Get Real” Novo Nordisk and Anderson campaign is unbranded. However, Novo is among a handful of Type 2 diabetes drug makers to nab an added indication for reduced risk of cardiovascular events. Its Ozempic brand, along with competitors Eli Lilly’s Trulicity, AstraZeneca’s Farxiga, Johnson & Johnson’s Invokana and Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim’s co-marketed brand Jardiance, all have cardiovascular risk indications.

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