Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics — a division of Novartis Pharmaceuticals — is attempting a perfect execution of the YouTube “User-Generated” Video Trick. This is just one of the Web 2.0 “tricks” the secrets of which I will reveal in my upcoming presentation on September 19 at THE Pharmaceutical Marketing Event in Philadelphia, PA (see “Web 2.0 Tricks for Pharma Marketers to Be Revealed September 19 in Philadelphia“).

Hat Tip to NRx for bringing this to my attention (see “Novartis goes viral. Gets 710,000 views on YouTube.“).

Lesson Learned From Michael Moore?
This is the second attempt to execute this “trick” amongst pharmaceutical companies that I know of (see “GSK’s YouTube Disease Awareness Sponsorship“).

Novartis is sponsoring a contest that entices young people (over 18 years of age) to submit videos to YouTube that show how they “feel about influenza, commonly known as the flu, and how it can affect [their] everyday [lives].” Novartis markets Fluvirin, a flu vaccine, which is aggressively being stockpiled the vaccine in the US in preparation for the upcoming flu season.

I wonder if Novartis took my advice when I suggested some time ago that pharma marketers and PR people — such as the Gardasil promoters at Merck — can learn a lot from Michael Moore regarding cause marketing via YouTube (see “Cause Marketing via YouTube: What Pharma Can Learn from Michael Moore“).

Speaking of Merck and Gardasil, Ed Silverman at Pharmalot asked, somewhat in jest, “Imagine if Merck sponsored such a contest for Gardasil?” Ed, I already imagined that back in June! See the above link.

“To enter,” says the Novartis sponsorship blurb, “create a short video that shows the seriousness of getting the flu, how it spreads, and why you should talk to your doctor about getting an influenza vaccination…The winning video will be seen by adoring fans across the globe and you’ll gain street cred as a bona fide contest winning filmmaker.”

All the video entries must be uploaded to YouTube. Presumably, from there, the videos will spread as quickly around the virtual world as flu spreads around the real world!

Are Vaccines Funny?
“Make it funny. Make it dramatic. Make it your own,” says Novartis. But whatever you do, DON’T “disparage” the Sponsor, according to the TERMS & CONDITIONS. This is the achille’s heel in Novartis’ plan. The contest may generate as many unofficial “disparaging” entries as legitimate entries! That, however, seems unlikely. Flu vaccines, after all, are not funny products. RLS and ED drugs, on the other hand, ARE funny products! By which I mean, easy to poke fun at.

What About Incorporating Winning Videos into DTC Ads?
It will be interesting to see how this contest plays out. The link to the “Official Rules” ( leads to an error message, so I cannot determine who will own the copyright, for example, to the winning entries.

It’s possible, for example, that in exchange for accepting the $500 cash prize, winners will have to sign over copyright to Novartis. Then, Novartis could use the videos anyway it sees fit, including incorporating them into branded TV commercials for Fluvirin!

Now, that would be the ultimate flawless execution of the YouTube Consumer-Generated Video Trick!