Step It Up: Branding Roundtable - Pharmaceutical Executive


Step It Up: Branding Roundtable

Pharmaceutical Executive

Jeff Conklin, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals
Pharma companies usually are built to launch product brands, but Merck actually budgeted and planned for talking about the condition itself. It did an excellent job in driving the vocabulary and ideas about vaccinating for cervical cancer with the "Tell Someone" campaign. As a nonbranded campaign, it sort of got taken up by society and became more of a grassroots entity.

REGAN: Lunesta has taken a consumer-like approach and has done a beautiful job. In particular, they have created surround sound in terms of making sure that there are synergies between the professional and consumer markets. Although consumers have a tendency to call it a butterfly when it is actually a lunar moth, it is one of the most recognized symbols in medical advertising.

CLINTON: Why do these work so well?

PARRY: The whole way that a pharmaceutical company is structured is to sell, whereas branding is about helping people buy. And what are they buying when they buy this drug? A brand has to create an experience, a situation where people see a reflection of themselves and their values. So the whole act of putting a nurse educator into a physician's office is imparting a value to that brand. The brand becomes helpful, nurturing.

Probably the main brand experience for doctors is still the sales forces. Yet there is no training whatsoever on how sales reps should represent the brand they sell. They are not representing a nurturing, helpful, caring brand if they are coming into the office and saying, "Doc, I need your next 10 patients."


BREITSTEIN: The issue of drug safety has taken over headlines for the industry. How are companies responding to this issue in terms of branding?

Michael Guarini, Ogilvy Healthworld
PARRY: Safety has always been part of the pharmaceutical brand. But now you see companies putting more insurance policies in their trials. They are beginning to address some of the public's demand for greater accountability, like conducting longer trials with broader patient populations.

Safety for mass-marketed drugs for chronic conditions, often asymptomatic, is going to be a big concern. For other drugs, there are black box warnings. But a lot of people are on Remicade, which has a black box. It just celebrated its millionth patient. Biogen Idec gives warning after warning about Tysabri, and people respond by saying, "Hey, you're holding me back."

MICHAEL GUARINI (regional president, North America, Ogilvy Healthworld): There is an element of risk acceptance. We even saw that right after the withdrawal of Vioxx—people were somewhat resilient about it.

Vince Parry, Y Brand
HUNTSMAN: Patients are always going to believe that they are not that one in a million. Right now, there is a lot of pharmacovigilance, but we don't yet have the pharmacogenomics that will give us the direction as to who is going to experience the problem. So risk-management plans will be very important for the drugs that are coming.

What's interesting, though, is that companies are putting the liability for the risk-management program on physicians completely. This is a new dynamic where basically doctors are signing away their lives if they want to treat certain patients. Maybe they just don't want to go there.


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Source: Pharmaceutical Executive,
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