Agency Confidential: Bad Reputations and Building Value in Emerging Markets

Jun 02, 2010

Every June Pharmaceutical Executive magazine publishes Agency Confidential—a special section devoted to the latest trends in pharma marketing and to the agencies that develop the companies' strategies and campaigns.



Our conceit is to see ourselves as investigators—the old school type—gumshoes who pound the pavements in search of choice stuff—insights, gossip, juicy tidbits—to pass on.

This year, however, we unearthed a real headliner—news of a seismic shift in the pharmaceutical markets of the world. Last March, in a reclassification of its own study of global pharmaceutical markets, IMS predicted a new world order was taking hold of the industry in which emerging markets were set to overtake established national markets in terms of pharmaceutical sales. Next year, IMS predicted, sales in China would outpace those of France and Germany. Brazil would be buying more medications than Britain. And by 2013 prescription drug sales in emerging markets were expected to nearly double to $265 billion.

To find out how this was impacting clients and their agencies, Agency Confidential interviewed 13 agency heads for their insights into global branding in emerging markets.

For one thing, building brand value for products in an increasingly changing and culturally challenging market means putting your company's reputation on the line. But what is a corporate reputation? And can it be packaged?

In "Guess What? Your Corporate Reputation Doesn't Really Matter?" , Agency Insider Mark Chataway makes the case that corporate reputation programs and initiatives are largely a waste of time and money.

Chataway, co-chairman of Baird's Communications Management Consultants and a Welshman, is fearless when it comes to telling it like it is.

But why, you may ask, would investing in a program designed to make your company look good by doing good be a bad idea, especially at a time when trust is at an all-time low for corporations in general, but especially for the pharmaceutical industry?

Perhaps, it is because reputation means more than just good press.

Robert Barrington,Director of External Affairs at Transparency International (the world's leading anti-corruption organization) has been quoted as saying that Pharma's reputational challenges—the safety of clinical trials, drug withdrawals, the development of lifestyle over life-saving drugs, the use of marketing techniques, and access to medicines in both developed and developing countries—are about the need to reconcile profit with public health and is summed up by the conundrum "Do Pharma companies have patient interests at heart?"

And to convince the public that your company does, you need more than advertising campaign.

— Marylyn Donahue, Special Projects Editor