New Media and Pharma – An Intermittent Series

Sorry there was not Weekly Roundup on Friday.  A bus caught fire in my neighborhood and knocked out my Internet access.   Go figure. 

Today’s posting is part of a series I’ve begun based on my belief that pharmaceutical companies are not availing themselves of new media to the extent that they could or should.  Why?  Because as a highly regulated industry, they are intimidated by it and are frightened by the conversation that is taking place out there.  Offering the opportunity for dialog, or commentary, intimidate pharmaceuticals from the world of new media for a number of regulatory reasons.  But that shouldn’t always be the case.  Consider Public Service Announcements (PSAs), for example. 

PSA’s I think have been outmoded.  Today, if you spend a good deal of money to produce a PSA for television, the best you can hope for is that it will be shown at 3 AM during a monster movie that almost no one is watching. 

Let’s say your PSA is about a particular condition.  You spend a kazillion dollars and produce something that is compelling and artful and makes people want to act on it.

Then, at 3 AM, when it is shown on television, it appears on a cable channel, and of all the people watching, very few are interested in that particular issue.  So you spent a lot of money to hopefully get broadcast to hopefully hit a few people who are still up to see it.  Not a big bang for the buck.

Enter YouTube.  YouTube, or any other Internet video sharing experience, is clearly amazing.  People go onto it, find a video they like, and forward it on to some of their friends who are interested in the topic and they spread it onto others.  It is viral marketing at its best.  (This, by the way, is one of my favorite YouTube videos.)

And so, if you are trying to understand or influence a market, and you are using a PSA to do it, you are taking a very yesterday approach.  Merck tried to influence Gardasil update by lobbying state legislatures.  But an approach that reaches out directly to teens might have been done better by appealing to teens from teens in a YouTube PSA that could have been spread from teen to teen.  I’m not advocating Gardasil, I’m speaking to the fact that marketing has entered a new era.  Catch up with it.

The main advantage of using Web video over a PSA is not only a likely larger audience, but the fact the audience you hit is likely to be the one you want to, not the poor guy who is watching a monster movie at 3 AM.

By the way, not long ago I did a posting about use of RSS feeds to distribute press releases.  I did a little surfing and found that the following are using feeds:  GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, NovoNordisk, Baxter, Pfizer, The Medicines Company, Merck, PhRMA and the FDA.  However, for many sites I examined of many large pharmaceuticals and biotechs, I could not find a feed offering.  The rest of you guys, hey CATCH UP!

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3 Responses to New Media and Pharma – An Intermittent Series

  1. John Mack says:

    In my post to Pharma Marketing Blog “Cause Marketing via YouTube: What Pharma Can Learn from Michael Moore” I also suggested that Merck should have used YouTube rather than paying off politicians to promote mandatory Gardasil vaccinations.
    What I suggested was that Merck should solicit YouTube videos from parents about their concerns regarding their daughters being infected with HPV.

  2. What kind of regulations are there regarding Pharma/Biotechs use of viral marketing? Are they subject to the same scrutiny by the FDA as TV ads?

  3. Mark Senak says:

    I’m not quite sure what you mean by “viral marketing” in this context – but any and all communications originating with a company or its representatives – is entirely subject to regulatory parameters.

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