PM360 magazine is asking its readers find marketing campaigns and tactics used by consumer packaged goods, retail, and other industries to give pharma marketers some fresh ideas. Here’s what one ad agency SVP Executive Creative Director came up with as and example of how pharma can “push the boundaries”:

In terms of creepiness, this campaign has nothing over some creepy pharma campaigns I’ve seen (see, for example, my “Gallery of Scary Pharma Industry Advertising“).

According to the Creative Director who submitted this example to PM360, Australia’s Transport Accident Commission’s “visually and emotionally jarring approach to the problem of connecting with the public about road safety was unique and inspiring. Rather than educate people on the tragedy of auto-related deaths with a metaphor or visual of a mangled person, they reframed the problem by looking broader and closer, and by thinking younger.”

But these and other “fresh [creative] ideas” are not really new to pharma or they just won’t work for pharma. Let’s examine each one.

  1. Broader: “Public service campaigns urging people to drive more safely essentially trigger the same emotions and focus on the aftermath of a crash, so we’re sort of immune to them,” says Creative Director.

    So how would this be applied to the pharma industry?

    Would it mean that disease awareness and branded drug ads should NOT show the devastating effects of medical conditions the drugs treat such as this Dark Disease Awareness Youtube Video from Boehringer? If so, I’m OK with that. But pharma marketers will never be “creative” enough to give up on scare tactics.

  2. Closer: “Car safety has evolved, but people remain vulnerable. Roads can be dangerous. People still crash,” says Creative Director. “As long as an impact happens, people will still get hurt or die.”

    I’m not sure how this defines “closer,” but translating this to pharma speak: “Medicine has evolved, but people remain vulnerable. Life can be dangerous, people still get sick. As long as a disease happens, people will still get hurt or die.” So what’s a pharma marketer to do to apply this “fresh idea?” It’s a mystery to me.

  3. Younger: “Cars have evolved, ” says Creative Director, “but it’s still not enough. What if humans evolved to survive, or be unscathed, no matter the crash? What would that evolution look like?”

    Again, I’m not sure what this has to do with the idea of “younger.” All I can say is that pharma marketers often show people in ads who are younger than the people likely to have the medical condition treated by the drug being advertised. I’ve mentioned this many times in the past regarding those Viagra ads.

    [BTW, Graham is made to look hideous simply for PR and buzz purposes. Why couldn’t humans evolve to be like Deadpool, the superhero who survived many crashes?!]

    In any case, if we translate this to pharma speak, we get: “Drugs have evolved, but it’s still not enough. What if humans evolved to survive, or be unscathed, no matter what the disease? What would evolution look like?”

    If we ever evolved to survive disease without drugs, pharma marketers would be out of a job that even Trump could not bring back to America. And I’m sure most of us would sing Hallelujah! to be free of those annoying drug ads on TV!