The following tweet from Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) was posted to the “News Direct from Drug Industry” forum on Pharma Marketing Network:

Boehringer: Thank you. RT @Pharmafocus: Digital Pharma: Boehringer gets social with Facebook

This is a typical corporate Facebook page that includes general information about the company — including information about the company’s Jubilee (125th) celebration. It has a Wall with comments, but you cannot post comments to it — it seems only invited guests can do that.

CORRECTION: Anyone can post comments as long as they first click on “Like This” on the page. Still, most pharma companies don’t allow comments. Even when they do — as in BI’s case here — they have the ability to delete comments they don’t link. That’s fine.

Let’s get over the fact that pharma companies don’t want to include comments from visitors — at least not the negative comments or comments they don’t like. I understand all the reasons for this. But what I don’t understand is why a pharmaceutical company would stand for having a site where they appear to have no control over the ads that appear on the page. Take a look, for example, at the top ad on BI’s Facebook page (see screen shot below; click on image for a larger view):

The image of a woman (I assume) “eating a banana” is not something I would like to see on my official FB page if I were a pharmaceutical company.

It’s interesting that pharma companies are so reluctant to have negative comments placed on their Facebook pages, but obviously turn a blind eye to inappropriate ads being served up on the same page! Does BI think having a presence on FB is so critical that it can overlook the fact that it’s image is being tarnished by suggestive advertising?

Visitors to BI’s Facebook page may be well aware that BI has no control over the ads displayed on the site. But, still, it’s a bit embarrassing, don’t you think?

UPDATE (Sept 18, 2010): Upon revisiting the BI FB page, I no longer see ANY ads in the right-hand column (see screen shot below). There is only a FB “house ad” and a link to “More ads,” which will show you the ads by themselves and not in conjunction with BI content. It appears that BI was able to suppress the ads. Not sure how they do that, but it is a trick I’d like to learn more about. 

UPDATE (Sept 22, 2010): John Pugh (Director of Corporate Communication/External Communications, Boehringer Ingelheim) posted this comment on my FB page: Hi John. I just answered you comment on our Facebook page. Here’s what I said: “Facebook does allow ads to be turned off in the right rail for any pharma page that requests it. So, after your blog post, we requested it. Best, John”