The Rx Club's 25th Anniversary Show - Pharmaceutical Executive

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The Rx Club's 25th Anniversary Show
The Rx Club Show celebrates 25 years of honoring the best in creative pharmaceutical advertising


Pharmaceutical Executive


Tollefson: The good news? We have a whole new playground in which to run around, explore, and trip ourselves up. Of course, that can also be the bad news. Knowing when to use apps or QRCs is as important—actually, more important—than how to build them. We have clients who have provided tablets to entire sales forces with no clear plan on how to maximize the power of an app in a sales opportunity. What has remained the same for the past 25 years, and longer, is the importance of strategic thinking.

PE: With the economic climate constantly changing and Big Pharma making cuts in all areas including marketing, has there been a monetary impact at your company? What can you do to stay strong and differentiate yourself in lean times?

Schmader: We formed this company with the motto, 'Adapt or die.' For most people, it takes a near-death experience to adapt behavior. We've been continually adapting since we were born in the first healthcare revolution in 1983. And so we are doing just fine. My advice to people struggling to adapt? Specialize and focus, and don't try to be everything to everyone—that just feeds into the desperation mentality.

Kristan Early, VP/creative director, GSW Worldwide: I think we have to stop thinking of our industry as 'ads.' In all honesty I feel the professional journal ad is a thing of the past. The future of healthcare advertising will be to not look, act, or sound like advertising. If we truly want to make a difference in the lives of our healthcare professionals and patients then we need to really sit and think about what they need from us beyond our pills or devices.

PE: How have marketing regulations changed the healthcare ad agency in the past 25 years? Is it a struggle to remain creative under such constraints?

Sonderman: There's a well-regarded premise that the more restrictive the box, the more creative the ways out of it will be. I believe the appetite for creativity in healthcare has never been stronger. As this industry moves from relying on purely functional communication to insight-fueled brand building, we find more creative breathing room, more emotive expression.

Nair: As the regulations have been tightened, the need for more scientific and data-driven communication has increased. We have not felt it to be a struggle and believe this is a move in the right direction and goes a long way to rebuild the trust and respect enjoyed by the pharmaceutical industry.

Neale: The zero-tolerance, no-risk mindset pervades pharma marketing right now, and we know that will not change. The risks of transgressions are too severe. Our ideal client is one that engages their med/reg/legal department in the process of finding ways to effectively communicate the unique benefits of their brands within the guidelines and use those smart people to help us find solutions.

Resnick: Certainly the rise of DTC over the years has transformed the industry. Regulations allow us to develop DTC work, but they also offer their share of hurdles. Certainly being creative in pharma presents a unique set of challenges. That makes it all the more rewarding when the creative work earns accolades from your peers.

PE: How have you seen healthcare advertising, and the Rx Club show, change in the past 25 years? Has The Rx Club Show evolved with the culture of the industry in a successful way?

Schmader: Agencies come and go and change names, and being edgy or more creative really depends on having some insane individuals who continue to believe in magic, who bang their heads against a wall of stupidity to keep the portal to brand creativity open. The good thing is, for 25 years, thanks to Carveth and Ina, The Rx Club Show has been here to hold us up, to push us on, and to throw us a little ego boost once in awhile.

Nair: We see an appreciation and awareness of the global nature of marketplaces, and The Rx Club Show certainly highlights work from around the world. Given the differences in regulatory and technology scenarios across the world, we do see a difference in the way companies handle their creative campaigns.


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