S&R Blog

Which industry’s ads are most trusted by Americans?
February 8, 2010, 7:49 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

If you answered pharma, then you’re right when compared only to the financial industry. But according to a new poll conducted by Harris Interactive and AdweekMedia, when compared to the soft drink, fast food, and auto industries, pharmaceuticals ads come in as least trustworthy by Americans.

Of the five industries about which the poll inquired, soft drinks had the highest “most trustworthy” vote (34 percent) and the lowest “least trustworthy” score (4 percent). Fast food was the runner-up in both respects (22 percent “most trustworthy,” 10 percent “least trustworthy”).

Each of the polls’ other three ad categories had more negative than positive votes. Pharmaceuticals was ranked “most trustworthy” by 18 percent and “least trustworthy” by 29 percent. The automotive industry fared a bit better, at 14 percent “most trustworthy” and 19 percent “least trustworthy.” Financial services did worst of all, at 13 percent “most trustworthy” and 38 percent “least trustworthy.”

Want to weigh in on the conversation? Check out the full article here at Adweek.


What do physicians really think about Big Pharma?

According to Dr. Candida Fink’s latest blog post on PsychCentral, not highly. In what clearly wasn’t a good year for pharma in terms of reputation, Dr. Fink highlights why she will “no longer see any drug reps.”

I didn’t want to hear from them, and I haven’t since. I avoid lectures and meetings that drug companies sponsor, and I use no drug company pens or notepads. The longer I avoid direct contact with drug company reps, the better I feel about it. The further removed I am from these things the more I realize I was getting a lot of my information about medications from company reps who had vested interests in my using their product. I realized that I don’t need samples, because the companies give samples only of their newest products, and those don’t have the research or track records that the older products have. Furthermore, the older products are now available as generics, which ultimately save my patients far more money than they save by taking a few free samples and then paying for the priciest, newest product.

Obviously, this is the opinion of one physician, but the points Dr. Fink brings up about her disdain for pharmaceutical marketing tactics have been echoed more than once lately. So if not from pharma companies, where would physicians get their information about products? According to Dr. Fink,”That isn’t to say I don’t keep informed and try new products that are appropriate for certain patients, but I do so based on research and my patients’ needs, not who bought me lunch last week.”

Samples, proper medical education, and other informative materials should be needed to help improve patient outcomes. But physicians seem to be turning their heads the other way.  If pharma doesn’t heal the wounds and restore the trust with physicians, credibility will be the least of its problems. What do you think?

Read Dr. Fink’s post here.

Who will lead pharma back to a constructive, trusting, and value-based industry?

The “conspirators” have been revealed—the  Pharmageddon2012 “conspirators” that is.  This past week, the November issue of MedAd News broke a story on Pharmageddon2012 and the people behind the scene—S+R Medical Communications (SRMC) and Friday Morning.

For those of you who have not taken the time to check out Pharmageddon2012, this multifaceted website uses a variety of social media outlets to carefully and anonymously describe what we believe is the pharma industry’s greatest problem—the breakdown of communication and trust between physicians and the industry.

The site, describes the issues and problems that exist but what it doesn’t address is the passion, belief, and attitude of those people at SRMC and Friday Morning who have to live and deal with the implications of what Pharmageddon2012 represents. You must admit a campaign like Pharmageddon2012 could be risky for a business that that has spent over 18 years enabling and helping our pharma clients devise the very same communication pieces and strategies that we believe contributed to the demise of physician trust.

However, we also believe that someone needs to lead the charge for change and why shouldn’t it be SRMC and Friday Morning? We spent the last 10 years closely watching, listening, and seeing firsthand the strategies and tactics that led to the mistrust problems. We were frustrated and angry about the situation, and we struggled to understand what new strategies and solutions we might incorporate into our business model. The end objective is to help us build our success—and, equally as important, that of our clients.
To that end, we must help clients find ways to restore physician confidence AND improve patient outcomes.

So while we are willing put our collective necks on the line, the real question is which pharma companies will be the first to understand and see the need for communicating with physicians in a different way? Which companies will choose to use educational programming that is needs-based? Are you, as a pharma marketer, willing to use total transparency and clarity as you describe ALL of the important aspects of how your brand is best used? When a physician asks, “Which of my patients are specifically and best suited for what your product does?” what will your sales force say? How will you provide educational and promotional programs that allow your sales force to bring value and relationship building to every sales call?

Is YOUR pharma company willing be a leader and change the pharma/physician communication model back to a constructive, trusting, value-based relationship? Do you believe that you can participate in this change process and at the same time positively impact your brand’s financial achievements? It’s tough to be a leader and to stand out from the crowd. But in fact, that is the opportunity that is before us right now.

If you have the same passion and spirit for this issue as we do, if your brain and heart tell you it is time to do it differently, please contact me. I can show you how we can work together to put our industry, your company, and your products back on a more productive, positive path.

Dave Recht
CEO, North State Resources, Inc.

25 things every pharma product manager should know before creating a marketing plan for 2010 and beyond
October 9, 2009, 2:52 pm
Filed under: advertising, behavior | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Plus a few more. If you are a non-believer in the effect of social media on the media landscape check out socialnomics. If you are a believer, then what you may not know is how other mediums are changing for the better or worse. Introducing, Did you know 4.0.

If your ad suffers from one of these traits, you may need to rethink it
October 1, 2009, 1:55 pm
Filed under: advertising | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Every brand manager, marketing director, CMO, account person and creative wants to know –  what makes the perfect ad? Is it the headline or the visual? What about that brilliant logo? Maybe it’s the call-to-action or the tagline that keeps them coming back for more? Or that one design element that caused you to stop in your tracks and stand at attention?

Whatever it may be, the folks at Business Week (Steve McKee) have created a simple list to tell you what it shouldn’t be:

1. Boring. Yep, boring. Why do we watch TV, listen to the radio, read the newspaper, or go online? Three reasons: information, entertainment, and engagement. Ads that fail to offer at least two of these three benefits flop.

2. Boorish. You shouldn’t think of your advertising as being about your brand, you should think of it as an extension of your brand (see “A Practical Guide to Branding”). If it’s loud, annoying, insulting, offensive, or self-centered, people will think the same of your products or services (see “The Cocktail Party Test for Advertising”).

3. Safe. If you worry too much about offending someone, you’re likely to not attract anyone.

4. Trying to do too much. The best an ad can do is communicate one single, compelling idea, and in the age of the Internet—when people know they can go online to get all the additional information they need—it’s crazy to ask an ad to do more than that.

5. Fixing a non-advertising problem. A common mistake many companies make is trying to use advertising to fix another problem. It may be faulty or outdated product design, an uncompetitive cost structure, customer service letdowns, or any number of other things. It’s not as if they do so intentionally; it’s just that it’s a whole lot easier to put on a new coat of paint than it is to fix the foundation that’s causing the drywall to crack.

Read Steve’s full list here.

Has pharmaceutical advertising regressed?
September 17, 2009, 3:27 pm
Filed under: advertising | Tags: , , , , , ,

Simple and effective. More classics can be found at AdViews.

Who have pharma consulting companies and brand managers displaced from the strategic decision table?

Part 2 of “How did pharma ad agencies become “expendable”?

The advertising agencies of course! The agencies no longer had to worry about strategy because the consultants and the brand managers had that all figured out. Thus, the agencies could simply take orders on what words and “pictures” they should “paint” on the ad concepts and be done with it. And if you are simply painting words and pictures onto paper (or electronic screens), then that can’t be very difficult, so it becomes a simple commodity and even easier for purchasing to decide who did what.

Who was last horse out of the barn?

Well, ashamedly it was the agencies themselves. As all of the above was going on, most of the agencies, being the good guys that we are and not wanting to rock the boat, simply let it happen. We sheepishly gave up our seats and voice by not saying a whole lot and not challenging the decisions that were being made. We gave it up without fight

Now I know what you are thinking: “You guys deserved it”; or “You didn’t add that much anyway” or  “I never got strategic input from my agency” or  “They always saddled me with the junior AE”.

Some or all of those comments are certainly true.  But the fact of the matter is that most agencies did all of the above. They fell into the trap and believed that by simply executing what the “smart people” told them, they would earn more business. They by and large stepped away from the key issues of strategy, branding, messaging, and having the common sense and insight to tell their clients what they really need to know and hear.  And, they didn’t yell loud and clear up and down the client’s marketing/senior management chain.

What is the fix for agencies if they are to hold their ground and claw their way back?

Start with knowing the client’s business inside and out–the brand, the science, and medicine; the competition; and the real world.  Only through knowledge can an agency bring insight, strategy, and solutions that will result in brand success.

Demand and keep demanding to be part of the client’s marketing strategic decision team–The more an agency partners, participates and understands what the client’s ultimate issues and goals are, the better the agency can counsel and advise.

Hire the best AEs you can, and couple them with senior-experienced agency personnel–While it is fine to have a junior AE in the day-to-day business mix, a senior level manager must and should be highly involved with a client’s business.  Both the AE and senior level manager must frequently interact with the client team and must be sure that they bring valuable insight, strategy, and creative thinking to the client.

Finally, have frank and direct conversation with your clients (all the way up and down their management team)–Create understanding and acceptance for the value and work that you bring them, and make sure that you are not simply viewed as a vendor or commodity. Have these conversations with high-ranking client managers to make sure they understand that you understand their business and are in it shoulder-to-shoulder along with them.

It’s time to take off the vendor uniforms, put away the hand trucks, and put on the business suits and deliver insightful, strategic, creative solutions.

-Dave Recht