What H1N1 Can Teach Pharma About Marketing


By Guy Mastrion

You’re probably reading that acronym and feeling fatigued already. But that’s kind of the point.

The virus was first identified in April and it hasn’t left the media spotlight since. I’m sure you’ve heard and read and seen all of these variations on the theme in the last six months:

  • Dangers of the virus.
  • Spread of the virus.
  • Shortages of the vaccine.
  • Dangers of the vaccine.
  • Arguments about the vaccine.

But there’s something that nobody’s talking about.

We – the public? the media? both? – assume that a vaccine will be instantly available, everywhere, be 100% effective, 100% safe – and when any of those don’t happen, there’s outrage.

But – isn’t it pretty amazing that this is a virus that we first heard of just a few months ago and now we have a vaccine? How on earth does that happen? Who are the people who have made this happen?

Think about what an amazing achievement that is! Consider the knowledge and collaboration and fascinating moments that have gone into that. Why don’t we know those stories? Why aren’t we talking about them?

Everyone should be, and they’re not. The negative angles are all we’re hearing. Frankly, that sucks. And what sucks worse is that we’ve let it happen.

The pharmaceutical industry needs to get better at promoting itself.

There is a whole lot wrong with it, let’s not pretend otherwise. But it’s unfair, and disingenuous, to focus on that without remembering that this industry saves lives. Lots of them. Every day. It’s far from perfect. But it does do amazing good. And it’s incredibly important for all of us who work in it to know it.

We need to remember the real point of what we’re all working on. And the entire industry needs to feel better about itself.

Only once we take pride in what we do right will we really be able to fix what’s gone wrong.



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