Monday, May 12, 2008

Powerlines in Pharma Ads-Viagra vs Cialis

Steve Cone makes the case in his new book "Powerlines" that a great slogan is the most important part of any marketing campaign and shows by means of many examples and some instruction how to create one. He says "Powerlines are promises that deliver and never change. They are the voice of the brand." Well that’s sure true. While illustrating his point, Steve tells one of the best stories I've ever heard about pharma advertising.

The "powerline" story goes as follows in Steve's book:

As baby boomers become older they have created a huge new market for drugs to guarantee sexual performance. Those crazy baby boomers, they want everything! Pfizer was the first pharma company to go for it and they launched Viagra.
Viagra was an instant hit. Nothing could bring Viagra down. It captured 75% of the market and held onto it for years, generating billions in annual sales. Competitors were no match. The folks over at Lilly Pharmaceuticals, the makers of Cialis were perplexed. They advertised and advertised and they couldn't move the needle. Why was this so impossible? They could not figure it out.

Then something happened. A great mind, the cleverest copy writer of them all took notice amongst all the legalese that the FDA required the printing of the disclaimer "To avoid long term injury, ff an erection lasts more than four hours, you must seek immediate medical attention". “avoid long term injury”!!! Boomers took the bate! Erectile function that is so powerful that it could last for four hours and cause long term personal injury is any super boomer’s dream. They truly can have everything.

Cialis quickly changed their ads and made this line as prominent as the headline or tagline. On TV they actually voiced over the line and displayed it on the lower third.

Within three months time Cialis gained over 30% of the market and leveled the playing field with Viagra to the point where they have almost equal share of the market.

This has now been a prominent part of Cialis’ advertising for several years. Another point Steve makes in his book is that to often we give up our powerlines for no reason. We used to hold on to them for at least five years. In the last ten years headlines, taglines and “powerlines” have a far shorter life span. With the tenure of CEOs and CMOs shortening every year these lines tend to change on the whim of new administrations within the company stripping away the brand of a recognizable part of its personality.

The moral of the story is that ONE LINE made the difference. Now that' awesome. Cialis, don’t let it go. This is a good one. A true “powerline”. I want to hear the disclaimer that could at the end of your ads for years to come. That way I’ll always know who you are.

Thanks Cialis for showing us how it's done. “If this powerline lasts more than five years, seek the help of a marketing professional immediately”

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Is that really Antonio Banderas in the Nasonex ads?

OK, so is that really Antonio Banderas in the Nasonex ads? My husband says that there is no way Antonio would do so, but I say he's Spanish and in Europe celebrities are used to doing bizarre endorsements and commercials.

Take a look for yourself:

We can't agree. I don't think there is anything for Antonio to be ashamed of. The bee is a little dorky, but has survived for a while and has become a recognizable character for Nasonex.

This was the first of what are now many celebrity endorsements for DTC pharma ads. Sally Fields for Boniva comes to mind. Celebrity endorsements are nothing new, but they raise some interesting issues in the DTC pharma space. It's the fact that you need a prescription to consume these drugs that makes it different.

Can't wait to see who's next.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Social Media’s Place in Pharmaceutical Marketing

Social media is “the new thing” in pharmaceutical marketing. Everyone is talking about it—few are engaging it. How do pharmaceutical marketers tap it to it make it make sense for the brand? Are the stakes too high in pharma for the “uncontrolled” nature of social media? What are the best strategies and tactics being employed today? What pharmaceutical brands today are pushing the envelope through social media and marketing innovations? What is the future of this newest of phenomena in pharmaceutical marketing?

• How do pharmaceutical marketers tap it to it make it make sense for the brand?
• Are the stakes too high in pharma for the “uncontrolled” nature of social media?
• What are the best strategies and tactics that you have heard about?
• Can you share with us any examples that tap the power of social media from your own firm?

In my opinion the true potential of social media –especially in pharma has yet to be realized. Still some pharmaceutical brands are leading the charge by example. What pharmaceutical brands today are pushing the envelope through social media and marketing innovations?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Creative that counts in Pharma Advertising

To continue on my soap box why don't we discuss and examine the role of creative in pharmaceutical advertising? Let's dig into the importance of teaming the right creative message with the right end objective and why this might be important in pharma marketing. What are the best strategies and tactics to engage, what are some of the best practices to share, what brands are leading the industry?

Don't be shay and let me know what you think about....

• What is “the state” of creative in pharma marketing? Good or bad—why is it the way that it is?
• Relevancy is a term that comes up a great deal these days? What does it really mean when we are talking about “relevant” creative?
• What are the best strategies and tactics to engage when it comes to teaming the right creative with the right objective and target audience?
• Can you share with us, from your own experience, what brands are leading the way for us all to follow? In short, who “gets it” today in pharma advertising?
• Can you share with us your thoughts on what the future holds for creativity in pharma advertising?

Show me something good!!! in Pharma marketing

A discipline long known to consumer goods merchants like P&G is now playing a mayor role in Pharama marketing. Regardless of this market's recent innovations, relevant innovation must be consumer led. You must develop an appreciation for your who your consumers are and how they live to know their needs and also their aspirations. This is the only way to produce relevant content that sway opinions, peak interest and entice.

Just a thought. Not to get too preachy today, but I'm tired of seeing ads that have nothing to do with me even though I am in the market for those products. Feel free to chime in and let me know if you've seen anything good today. If I see one more senior citizen kayaking or sky diving, I'm going to have a fit. No more breathing freely in a meadows, no more 60 year old couples romping around for a nooner and please no more pipe and water balloon imagery for incontinence drugs. Show me something good!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Interview with a Pharma Marketer, Emilio Vera, Part 2

Interview with a Marketer, Part 2

6. What do you think of the backlash against DTC advertising? Sites like target the concept quite vehemently.
I think that DTC advertising is a direction—not a trend. More countries will begin to follow the US lead. The backlash is understandable. Change causes friction. But I don’t think anything can change the direction of consumer empowerment (maybe a dictator?)

7. How much change those the future of pharma marketing hold?
I belive we will see tremendous change in the future still in pharma marketing. Much of the change will be formed around the concept of relevancy. If I (or someone I know) do not have diabetes—I am not interested in the least. However, if someone I love is diagnosed with the disease—I can’t learn enough. Relevancy in marketing is the next great tool in pharma marketing. It will arrive. When? is the only question.

8. Nothing could be more personal than healthcare (well personal finance is a close second, even equal to some). How do you navigate such delicate matters without overstepping personal boundaries. When does the marketing stop and the conversation with your Dr. begin?
Personal is the operative word in your question. It really does depend on personal circumstances. What should be noted however is that delicate matters are sometimes easier for patients to handle in the abstract. And getting personal through impersonal means can be a fruitful endeavor. There is no right or wrong way to answer this question. Other than “it really does depend.”
9. Does blogging play a role for you in staying current on pharma marketing?

Absolutely, I expect that this area of “conversation” will become extremely more utilized in the near future. Who knows better about a drug than a person who has actually tried it. Who can offer a more frank answer that someone who does not know you. The big fear with blogging is commercial predators. How can we separate the real people from the paid mercenaries?

10. The consumer blogs tend to have a more critical voice when addressing issues in pharma marketing. Do you think you can hone in that consumer generated content to have a positive discussion?

You’re right. There are so many conversations that are negative about pharma marketing—even though the end beneficiary tends to be the little guy. Simply put, the industry in my opinion is not mature enough at this point to sanction the fact that selling drugs is a good thing. For some reason, consumers have it in their minds that all drugs should not cost a thing—paying no attention to the fact that R&D teams spend decades perfecting the drugs that make us well. These teams must be paid! Transparency is needed in the pharma industry. What really happens and who really profits is still a mystery that needs demystification. Trust will trickle down from frank conversations. Only time will fix this.

Interview with a Pharma Marketer, Emilio Vera, Part 1

I interviewed Emilio Vera, a seasoned marketer who entered the Pharma marketing scene 15 years ago after a career in packaged goods, way before there was a DTC conversation. In this 2 part interview he shares with us the state of the industry, what the future holds and the why of his choices.

Interview with a Pharma Marketer, part 1.

1. Why have you chosen pharma marketing as an industry to focus on?
Frankly, I feel that Pharma has chosen me. Our company corals business networks within the marketing industry. There are several determinants that make it right for an industry to need us. 1) there must be common questions among the industry that are going unanswered, 2) there must be a level of complexity in the issue that will need some degree of “explanation” from a central source, 3) there must be enough advertising and marketing dollars spent in the category to warrant media properties backing our network, financially and 4) there must not be a lot of other organizations in the particular industry. 5) There must be demand for bringing the people of an industry together face to face. We had demand before we had a product to sell.

2. I often ask "what of the contributions of marketing to the world?" Sometimes I have better luck than others. How do you believe pharma marketing contributes to the benefit of the consumer?
I presume you are referring to DTC advertising in the pharma industry. The value of business marketing in the pharma industry speaks for itself and I would be happy to elaborate on what value it delivers to society. But in keeping my answer to the DTC side of the equation, I can tell you that it adds a great deal to society.

You see, there are two forces constantly at odds in commerce: 1) “The Value of specialization” and 2) “The power of Self interest.” These two forces always have—and always will--characterize capitalistic commerce.

In response to the first item, division of labor is good for an economy. It allows people to focus on what they are good at, and affords them the opportunity to deliver this “good” to society in exchange for tokens of value (usually money).

The other force is that the more information the consumer has, the better equipped he is to make his own decisions.

So, if you take these two concepts “professional specialization” and “individual empowerment” you can understand why I feel that DTC advertising in the pharma category is a “good thing” for society. It taps our inherent drive for self interest to gather as much information that we can about certain pharmaceutical needs and ideas and combines it with a Doctor’s ultimate specialized authority to ultimately prescribe these medicines (or veto their prescription). The net result is that the patient is taken care of more fully, more accurately and by investigating all avenues possible.

3. What is the greatest challenge in Pharma marketing today?
The greatest challenge is educating the industry on itself. This is not just any kind of marketing. Pharma marketing has its own lexicon, its own jargon, its own standards of acceptability, its own culture. In one sense I feel that the industry does not know that it is an industry at all. Guess what? It’s the last to know. I think that any organization that can help bring focus and structure to the people and players in this field is doing the pharma industry a very big favor. This is why we have thrown our hat in ring.

4. What do you think must change in pharma marketing?
Good question. Because there is a lot that must change for this industry to grow into itself to its fullest potential. However, if I see one obstacle, it's that I see a large degree of animosity between the regulatory arms of the industry and with the marketing arms of the industry. In short, the two areas have got to learn to each play nice in the same sand box—or nothing will get done. Walls need to be torn down. Minds need to be opened within this industry.

5. What would you say is the greatest innovation in pharma marketing so far and what do you hope to see in the near future?

The use of the Internet. Think about it. The Internet is a lean forward research tool used best to peel back layers of information before making an informed purchase. Branding on TV with sight sound an motion will keep a brand top of mind. But it won’t really matter if its not a right fit. The first thing that either patients or doctors do when exposed to a new pharma TV ad is to check it out online. Do you want to know what will be the biggest innovation in the future—tapping the Internet as more than a pharma marketing research tool. The company that figures out to convert the Internet to a transactional sales channel is the company that will lead this industry for decades. It will take a lot of work—far deeper than merely technological work. But someone will do it…and change the industry of pharma marketing for ever.