Direct to Consumer: Making the Connection - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Direct to Consumer: Making the Connection
Drug companies stir emotions to draw attention


Pharmaceutical Executive


How do you think the industry's attitude toward unbranded advertising is changing?

There's a general school of thought that only the market leader should do the unbranded campaign. I don't subscribe to that notion because it depends on what you're trying to do with the ad. If a company is truly committed to driving better understanding about the disease, and is approaching it in a credible way that results in a very positive response from the general public, then that approach can have a positive impact on product sales as well—whether the company is the leader or not.

The industry is getting better at developing integrated campaigns. How does this fit in with the companies moving dollars to the Web?

If you look at any of the campaigns that you saw at PhAME, they all have a URL to go to, or a phone number to call. And even if it's branded, there's a tremendous amount of information there.

We found in other research that consumers actually will go to the manufacturer's Web site for more information. One of the really powerful purposes of television is to raise awareness about other places patients can go to get the information they need so they can make informed decisions. Any company that thinks that it can communicate in a 60-second commercial enough information for a consumer to make a decision on treatment is fooling themselves. Consumers are much more engaged in finding information, and it's important for them to be able to easily find that information. I think TV plays a role, but it may evolve over time.

How do you see unbranded advertising changing in the future?

You'll probably see more unbranded advertising from different manufacturers. And it might evolve, depending upon the objective. Drug companies view television as a very efficient and quick way to raise awareness and they can use TV to drive viewers to other places, especially the Internet, for a more thorough conversation. I think we'll see it move in that direction.

All advertising, to some degree, has a level of emotion that engages the viewer to take an action. And in many cases, this will be an action to seek more information, either from the Web or from their physician. But more and more, we'll see people heading towards the Web or the telephone. But we will always encourage them to talk to their physician.


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