FluTube: What Pharma Can Learn from Novartis' YouTube Campaign - Pharmaceutical Executive


FluTube: What Pharma Can Learn from Novartis' YouTube Campaign
Novartis partnered with Cadient to deliver a very successful unbranded interactive Web video campaign. Watch (at YouTube) and learn.

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It is telling that although the contest attracted many amateur filmmakers, the winning videos came from audiovisual professionals. The winning entry in the Sports and the Flu category, "Norton Fears the Flu," was a whimsical yet technologically sophisticated animated takeoff on the beloved Dr. Seuss children's book Horton Hears a Who. At press time, this was the most popular winner, with 5,000 page views (the other winners had received approximately 1,500 page views each). The filmmaker, Utah-based video technician Andreas Peterson, is a father of three who has been making films for 20 years (his young daughter provided a sneezing sound effect for his piece). "Flutiquette: Flu Etiquette in the Workplace and You," a satirical take on 1950s instructional films, took the honors in the Workplace and the Flu category. John Baumgaertner, the Los Angeles–based creator of "Flutiquette," has worked as an actor, producer, and comedy writer. Jay Sinnard, a father of three and video educator at the University of Cincinnati, cast his own (shrieking towheaded) children as the stars of "Story Interrupted," winner of the Kids and the Flu category.

The Winners
As of press time, approximately 12,000 people had viewed the FluFlix channel on YouTube, while almost 800,000 people had viewed the sample videos produced by Novartis and Cadient and circulated in advance of the contest. Dannenfelser says, "We're still talking about this program, and it started in September. We're still getting people involved in the program and people are still viewing the messages. It really has been a groundbreaking opportunity for Big Pharma to dip its toe into the water with Web 2.0 emerging technologies."

Perhaps the strongest argument for engaging with a Web 2.0 audience is that a campaign like this one is a gift that keeps on giving. Though the FluFlix campaign began in mid-September and ended in late October, new viewers continue to seek out (or stumble upon) the contest entrants and the winners on YouTube. Because each winning entry is displayed above a congratulatory comment that includes a link to http://FluSource.com/, the contest continues to drive additional traffic to the Novartis flu-education site. And since Novartis planned to ship 60 million doses of Fluvirin for the 2007/08 flu season, rolling publicity throughout the season is exactly what is needed.

Sara Donnelly is Pharmaceutical Executive's associate editor. She can be reached at


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