Jay Carter, AbelsonTaylor

Pharmaceutical Executive

Pharmaceutical Executive, Pharmaceutical Executive-06-03-2010, Volume 0, Issue 0

To assume that growing a marketing presence in emerging markets automatically requires a global agency network is a flawed assumption.

Promotion in emerging markets offers several very important benefits to pharmaceutical companies:

  • Strong insight work on a brand can be leveraged across multiple markets quite well.

  • Investing in great research across the globe, rather than nation by nation, can save substantial amounts of money and generate deeper, more actionable insights.

  • Investing in the creation of a great brand leverages the sales call of every salesperson who chooses to use the branding; it increases the effectiveness of non-personal promotion like journal advertising and the Web; and it enhances the effectiveness of the brand in communicating to clinicians at key medical meetings, which have become global events for the last 10 years or more.

  • Use of a single brand platform dramatically reduces agency spend levels, since among the largest costs for a product is the core brand concept. Doing that once, as opposed to 20 times, produces substantial cost savings.

Jay Carter

However, it is a flawed assumption to believe that growing a marketing presence in emerging markets automatically requires a global agency network.

Savvy global marketers should consider other options carefully. Here are four reasons why:

1. If the market you are entering is truly emerging, there is likely to be uneven quality among local agencies. It may sound appealing to hear a network executive claim uniform excellence. However, if there is even a 75 percent chance that the network you contract with has the best agency for a client's brand in a specific market (a spectacularly generous assumption), then the chances that six countries will all have the best agency with a single network is a whopping 18 percent. Simple statistics dictate that a global leader allow—even encourage—each affiliate to choose the agency that is the best fit locally.

2. As you build local affiliates, hire and develop independent leaders for them. This is an imperative for all of the organizations I work with on a daily basis. Taking away the ability of the affiliate general managers to select their own agencies reduces their ability to truly adapt to local needs.

3. The cost savings often cited by networks are based upon reducing the cost of creating six different campaigns, and not upon reducing local affiliate labor costs; each affiliate will still need to execute tactics locally.

4. For all these reasons, AbelsonTaylor advocates a simple brand book process: the pharmaceutical company's global marketing organization (often in partnership with the US affiliate, due to its dominant size) collaborates on the necessary insight work and brand development to create a global brand.