Exposure to online media, including a brand's Web site and online ads, had a significant positive lift on a treatment's awareness and favorability, according to comScore's third annual study, "Online Marketing Effectiveness Benchmarks for the Pharmaceutical Industry." The results also showed that visitation to a brand's website generated significant levels of incremental new patient "starts" and refills. The study, performed in conjunction with pharmaceutical marketing consultancy Evolution Road, evaluated the impact of various online marketing activities including banner ads, rich media, search marketing and visits to a brand website on a pharmaceutical brand's awareness, favorability and sales results among both patients and prospects.
Nestlé is a worldwide brand probably known best as a maker of chocolate, not exactly a health food. But the brand is making a serious push to become a global power in the emerging industry of foods that are not just healthy, but that offer specific medical and health benefits.
It happens every time. The moment those E.D. drug commercials list the possible side-effects: dry mouth, muscle weakness, nausea and, oh yes, erections lasting for more than four hours. I laugh out loud (or did the first hundred times I saw it). Isn't it like cigarette ads warning that smoking could attract fast girls, or that eating fattening foods lets obese people outsource more of their healthcare costs? A four-hour erection isn't a warning, it's a happy dream. Like that potato chip commercial says, you can't stop eating 'em. This illustrates the challenge of communicating risks and rewards to consumers.
I think that's the same model in commercials for Cialis (left) and Plavix (right). Aside from the obvious hilarity of promoting a drug that causes hearts to palpitate and then one that calms them, I think she illustrates some of what's wrong with advertising. We know the spots aren’t real, of course. When the model and her model husband discover the urge to procreate while painting the walls in their model living room, the set morphs into an outdoor setting so they can instead sit down and lecture us about our, er, heads exploding and other risks from taking Cialis. The Plavix spot has the model getting chased by a hospital gurney, and then she happily fills out paperwork. The ads are clearly fantasies. Can make-believe messengers deliver real truths?
It's like Trip Advisor for drugs. Even as Big Pharma wrestles with social-media marketing and the pending guidelines on its use from the Food and Drug Administration, consumers are taking the conversation into their own hands with online communities, message boards, forums and chat rooms offered by websites such as askapatient.com, MedHelp and patientslikeme.com. On these sites, consumers are not only sharing information about their respective illnesses and providing support for one another, they're also rating prescription medications.