This post kicks off Creativity Week at Pixels & Pills, where we’ll be taking a closer look at the examples and practices that lead to a strong, original pharma marketing campaign.
By Neall Currie
Among the many negative stereotypes hurled at the pharma industry, the most colorful may be the mountebank: the streetwise charlatan who sold fraudulent bottled remedies through deceitful demonstrations.
For the mountebank, the real product wasnt in the bottle. It was on the stage. The mountebank and his collaborators planted in the crowd spent very little time putting the snake oil into the bottles. They spent their time perfecting the pitch.
Even today a strong demonstration effectively sells products of all kinds. Think of Vince and his Sham-Wow. The late Billy Mays and his many variants of Oxy-Clean. Every before/after-themed weight loss product. Demonstrations work.
Pharma brands have the basis of their demonstration already built in, and its the kind of demonstration that the mountebank could only dream of: actual data. So pharma marketers, instead of featuring those scientific demonstrations, studiously ignore them.
Well-meaning “health literacy guidelines that are meant to keep medical information accessible to all audiences are often used as an excuse to simply hide the information. We avoid showing consumers the data because of the assumption that consumers cant handle it.
Instead of pointing to health literacy and hiding the data, lets task ourselves with finding ways to portray the data in meaningful, digestible ways. Its good for everyone. Every brand has to share an intimidating list of unlikely adverse events to balance any claim. Doing so without the data presents 1-in-10,000 events as though they are just as likely as the benefit the drug “may help deliver.
The result is consumers who think, “sure, itll help with my medical nuisance, but its going to give me four others. We say “may, they hear “will. Every middling stand-up comic of the last 20 years has had fun with this rubric.
As a result, pharma marketers already look like mountebanks anyway. The butt of a really old joke. They look like theyre hiding something. So lets hide nothing. Lets make the data our demonstration, and show the consumer the truth of the brand.
Most importantly, by featuring the proof, sharing the truth of the data, displaying the facts for all to see, marketers can demonstrate another important trait the mountebank never could: integrity.