Why Pharma Needs to Lighten Up and Have a Sense of Humor

By DJ Edgerton (@wiltonbound)

I think we can all agree that Tourettes syndrome (TS), which affects 3 out of every 1,000 children in the United States, is no laughing matter.

But I gotta tell you…this guy is HILARIOUS. Louis “Twitchels” Centanni got his stage name from Nicole Richie (yes, Nicole Richie) when she and fellow heiress Paris Hilton visited Centanni’s family for an episode of The Simple Life. His resume includes appearances on Jay Leno, MTV’s True Life, and several independent films. But more important than his professional work is his advocacy for Tourette’s Syndrome, a neuropsychiatric disorder characterized by uncontrollable motor tics.

Louis is a valuable asset to he Tourette Syndrome Association, by helping removing the stigma from such a misunderstood affliction. He even wrote and illustrated a childrens book entitled Little Twitching Timmy, the Turtle With Tourettes to educate children who have or know someone with Tourettes about the disorder. Louis Centanni joins the likes of Joe Pantoliano, founder of No Kidding¢‚Ǩ¬¶Me Too!, whom I had the pleasure of speaking with at DTC National this year. Joe had myself, as well as the crowd, roaring as he detailed his mission of and this is a direct quote “making brain disorders cool and sexy.

I know what you’re thinking: “where are you going with this, DJ?”

Look, here’s what I’m getting at…when we’re all sitting there at our conferences and in our board rooms and we’re talking about how to reach this market, that community, use this digital tool and that social media platform, we usually check our LOLs at the door…and that makes absolutely no sense. The Internet is ninety-percent made up of crazy cats with poor grammar skills, outrageous Chuck Norris facts, dancing prisoners, and Rick Astley.

Were in the business of digital innovation. One of the most prolific things to develop from the Internet are new kinds of humor. Whether its Photoshopping a well-known picture, tweeting as a household pet, or asking your social network if a pickle can get more fans than the band Nickelback, the power and pervasiveness of humor on the Web is something that connects people all over the globe.

To illustrate (and because we love lists), heres a set of criteria that a client once provided during a brainstorming session:

1. Strengthen relationships within a community
2. Leave a lasting imprint on customers
3. Clearly communicate instruction or information
4. Troubleshoot sensitive or controversial situations
5. Have viral power to extend brand reach
6. Be interactive
7. Be cost-effective & incentive-free

This list probably looks pretty familiar. Except I lied¢‚Ǩ¬¶this list didnt really come from a client. It came from various clients. But mostly, its a set of properties that belong to some of the most successful and funniest Internet memes of all time.

And you know what else? Its true what they say¢‚Ǩ¬¶laughter is the best medicine. Weve talked about Pharmas responsibility to inspire, empower, and inform patients everywhere, so why leave out the healing power of laughter?

I know that Pharma hasnt exactly had the best track record with humor. But isnt it time that we stopped being the butt of the joke and start being the comedians? At first thought, Tourettes isnt funny. But thanks to guys like Louis Centanni, its taken center stage in the minds of the general public.

You want impact? You want innovation? Humor is your best weapon.

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