Social media, the new marketing pill for drug companies

Amrita Nair Ghaswalla Mumbai | Updated on October 12, 2012 Published on October 12, 2012


The biotech and pharmaceutical arena has become one of the more complex markets for corporates to navigate. Rising competition has made it difficult for brands to stand out in the crowd. Social media and the digital arena appear to have come to the industry’s aid.

Pfizer recently ran a marketing campaign by the National Health Services (NHS) in the UK to encourage men to pose questions to healthcare professionals. Boehringer Ingelheim launched a Facebook game called Syrum, which involves a drug development role-playing exercise in which players don lab coats and set about eliminating the world’s deadliest diseases.

In its race against insulin, anti-diabetic drug major Novo Nordisk rolled out a campaign which was an important milestone in the evolution of pharmaceutical social media. Rather than pushing press releases and company news, Novo Nordisk created one of the industry’s earliest Twitter accounts to engage with its target audience. Sanofi Diabetes in the US also launched a Discuss Diabetes Blog, a Facebook page and a Twitter account.

With the healthcare industry facing simultaneous changes reshaping everything from its business model, to migration to digital and shared records, to big data driving personalised medicine, advertising major Ogilvy and Mather has decided to blow up the old-world agency architecture built on separate disciplines.

The agency has appointed Pete Smith as Regional Innovations and Creative Director, Asia Pacific, to tackle Ogilvy’s specialised healthcare division. Ogilvy’s healthcare offering reaches across Asia with hubs in China, Korea, Japan, India, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia.

Fresh from the BBDO network in Australia, where he was the creative director, Smith was responsible for some of the most successful healthcare campaigns both locally and globally. Most recently he has been driving the launch and ongoing growth of Astra Zeneca’s major brand portfolio in Australia.

Stating that a more knowledgeable patient community has its own problems, he said though people are armed with more information about the diseases they have and the medicines they take, they are more sceptical about pharmaceutical practices and drug safety.

Smith has driven serious innovation in the ‘digitalisation’ of healthcare creativity. He is to join the core regional team of Ogilvy’s health discipline that includes Rohit Sahgal, Regional Director, Asia Pacific, and Sebastien Boisseau, Regional Director, insights and strategy.


Published on October 12, 2012
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