Diabetes patient/racecar driver Charlie Kimball — or his Novo Nordisk marketing handler(s) — made the first ever pharma drug branded Tweet, which was offered up as a “model” for others to follow. I disagree (see “Novo Nordisk’s Branded (Levemir) Tweet is Sleazy Twitter Spam!“).
Whether or not Kimball’s Tweet was “sleazy,” “spam,” “uninspiring,” or something else, it will surely be followed by others. Hopefully, these others will learn from Novo Nordisk’s experience.
However, there are other ways that pharmaceutical companies can leverage their brands’ assets via Twitter. Rumor has it, for example, that the Nasonex bee character will start Tweeting like a little bird!
The beloved bee — whose voiceover is said to be provided by actor Antonio Banderas — is arguably the longest-lived drug brandname character/icon. Viewers of TV commercials such as the one below instantly associate the bee with Nasonex in focus groups.
If the bee rumor is true, it would represent a unique way of marketing Rx drugs via Twitter.
Instead of using real world highly-paid celebrities or patient advocates, who may stray from the script (see Andy Behrman, Now an Anti-BMS Spokesperson, Says “Ask Your Doctor If Abilify is Wrong for You”), using a drug icon like the bee avoids all this. Plus, there is no need to mention the drug name in Tweets made by the bee’s agents (obviously, the mental link between the bee and the drug name is very strong).
Here are few of the topics that the Nasonex bee will Tweet about:
- Updates on pollen counts with links to the “Pollen & Weather Forecast” on the Nasonex website,
- Reviews of movies like The Secret Life of Bees,
- Replies to Tweets made by Ronnie Nose — another, lesser known and beloved, character — with links to the “Don’t Blow It!” game on the Nasonex site,
- Humorous Tweets about the bee’s love/hate relationships with pollen-coated flowers,
- Bee trivia such as “How many bees does it take to make 1 pound of honey?” replies encouraged, and
- Much, much, more…
Many drugs are likely to use the bee’s Twitter account as a model for their own Twitter efforts — even drugs that use real actors as characters in their DTC ads.
Abbott’s anti-cholesterol drug Trilipix, for example, uses an actor who is a fashion photographer in its new DTC TV ads. This actor looks amazingly like the French actor Vincent Lindon (see “OMG! Worst Print Ad Ever! Plus: Is that French Actor Vincent Lindon?“). Having the character portrayed in the ad Tweet under a fictitious name — eg, Vincent Trip, the fashion photographer — would be very interesting. Vince can talk about his trade just as well as real-life Charlie Kimball does about his. Being totally ghost-written by Abbott agents, the Tweets can focus on cholesterol-lowering topics like what Vince had for breakfast that morning as he awoke next to the model he photographed the day before.
Unfortunately, Pfizer would not have much luck launching a Twitter account “written” by its latest Lipitor TV character “Steve” whose pathetic attempt at pathos and real life experience appears to be of little appeal or interest to viewers. Besides, Steve is a real person and as such cannot be trusted by Pfizer (or any other pharma company) to carry on a real conversation with consumers via social media.