We recently chatted with Paul Simms, Chairman of eyeforpharma, the mastermind behind the ¢‚Ç¨ÀúPharmasuiticus reps YouTube nature “documentary, which you may have seen doing the rounds in your social networks.
Pixels&Pills: Why did you decide to make this video?
Paul Simms: We find ourselves quite frustrated with the current situation in pharmaceutical sales management. This is still the area of highest expenditure in medical promotion, and whilst we have seen some movement, there is still a hardcore group resisting the new methods which will ultimately make a great improvement to healthcare at large. This is despite the swathes of industry insiders preaching the need for change. So, to really incite action, we simply went to great lengths to emphasise the ridiculous nature of the once-saturated pharma sales landscape.
P&P: Has it worked?
PS: Depends what you mean. After a week, there were over 5,000 views without us any real promotion from us, and we’re currently close to 10,000 views, so people are obviously watching and sharing.
Of course, numbers arent the point. We hope that it will switch on some light bulbs and make people think about changing their ways of working. But its too early to say whether it has achieved this ask me again in a year!
P&P: Popular it may be, but some people havent liked it, as evidenced by a few detractors on Pharmalot. Do those people have a point?
PS: The main objection seems to be a belief that we are poking fun at the pharma sales rep. And this is a group of people who are going through tough times. There is plenty of fear, diminishing returns and plenty of lay-offs within this group, and were kicking them while theyre down.
Laughing at others misfortune is certainly not our intention, nor do we want to rub peoples noses in it. The theme of the film was ¢‚Ç¨Àúevolution, not ¢‚Ç¨Àúdeath: we have used parody in an attempt to reduce or remove the ¢‚Ç¨Àúold style of rep from the face of the industry and make no apologies for communicating that in the most effective way we can think of. There are now plenty of examples of where a more mature focus on the differing types of customer and an individual level of communication has created great returns for both the pharma company and patient. The changes within healthcare systems across the world provide an unprecedented opportunity to improve communication and rid this industry of its terrible reputation. But action, not sympathy, is required in order to make that happen.
P&P: Whats next for eyeforpharma?
PS: Well, connected to this film is the 10th anniversary of our annual flagship event in Barcelona. This time were co-locating our eMarketing event with it, so well have more than a thousand people in one space.
Its interesting to me that whenever weve mentioned to the sales community that were bringing the online marketers to the same venue, theyve welcomed this with open arms.
However, the opposite has been true of the online community. Their reaction has been either sheer ambivalence or more of a ¢‚Ç¨Àúwhat, those guys? What have they got to offer?
For us, its clear that progress will only happen when both groups understand how to work together. And weve still got a fair bit of work to do in order to answer the question: ¢‚Ç¨Àúwith 1000 pharma executives in one place, what together can we achieve? Thats the opportunity we have. Indeed, e would welcome input from anyone out there as to how to get the most out of this unique gathering. We may even let you take control!
Apart from that, we have a lot more initiatives in the pipeline. Some of them are even quite serious for example we are currently running a mobile health competition which will really improve the lives of teenage cancer patients. It has backing from Livestrong and 9 other charities and were very excited about that.
P&P: And tell us¢‚Ç¨¬¶ What will your next acting gig be?
PS: Hopefully none for a while! I hadnt even intended to be in this one; clearly the camera crew decided I was the most Neanderthal-like and simply had to play the ¢‚Ç¨Àúalpha rep. I guess its praise of a sort.