25
Sep
15

Humanizing Pharma Advertising

Many factors contribute to the design, structure and content of a Web site. That is, to the extent that it’s profitable to talk about any of these topics in isolation. In the best sites, the three are inextricably linked.

That link is never more crucial than in pharmaceutical sites for consumers where, regulations or no, the exercise is wasted if the message doesn’t reach out over the footlights to address each visitor. “Address,” of course, is too mild a word. An effective site is one that shakes your audience out of its chair and sets it on a path to action.

Keeping in mind that the FDA imposes varying levels of restriction on the story each drug can tell, even within the same drug category, it’s still interesting to compare the approaches taken by different brands. If we look, for example, at sites created for three prescription cholesterol brands, the differences are striking.

Affectless.
Taken at face value and, again, with no knowledge of the regulatory path that was followed, the Crestor site is as neutral and affectless as it could possibly be. I mean, yes, there’s a recurring stock shot of a doctor in a lab coat, as well as a faker-than-fake dramatization shot of a patient reaching her numbers. But that’s about it. Every other aspect of the site is merely “informative.” Nor is the site’s lack of emotion alleviated by the literal adoption of the Crestor logo’s color scheme as the only other design element to speak of.

The site is, in other words, a classic example of Tidy Marketing, in which the only thing that matters is deniability. “Hey, consumers!” the site says, “Everything on these pages is lined up straight. You’re welcome.”

Personable.
The site for Zetia, another cholesterol medication, humanizes a similarly information-dense Web site with a relatively simple device. The headers of each section contain a flash video of an “average person” writing the visitor a note, delineating the topic of that section.

While the video itself is a big step forward toward making the site more welcoming, it’s the understated quality of the actors’ performances that has the greatest impact. Here are people, not icons, sharing the experience with you, with a minimum of artifice or fake backstory.

Responsive.
Livalorx.com, however, takes a more integrated approach to drawing users in. For starters, the home page calls attention to the free cholesterol screenings the brand offers through a mobile diagnostic unit. Sure, that’s not an intrinsic part of the site but, more to the point, it is an intrinsic component of the brand’s overall marketing campaign. As in many other cases, an online presence linked to an offline marketing initiative gives the digital component greater relevance and, as it were, a “spine.”

Within the body of the site, detailed programming allows users to find the most efficient user-path for their particular relationship both to the topic and to the medication. By answering a series of yes or no questions, users get where they need to go fast, without having to conduct an archeological dig.

Contributing to the effectiveness of this approach is the reasonably idiomatic way the questions and responses are written. You quickly lose the feeling you’re talking to a robot, as on one of those annoying voice-activated telephone screeners that never seem to understand you when you say “speak to a representative.”

Additionally, the understated use of animation on interior pages makes them feel responsive. Only the decision to include the horrible cliché of the 50+ hetero couple out on their bikes undercuts the site’s relatively fresh feeling.

Finally, a nearly YouTube-worthy video about drug interactions takes the bold step of using an analogy to explain this topic, apparently unconcerned that someone will think Livalo will also help you park your car. You

While neither the sites for Zetia or Livalo break new ground in terms of marketing ideology, what they demonstrate is how little it takes to communicate to people as opposed to “audience members” or “users.” It’s possible, marketers everywhere, even on a heavily regulated pharma site.

Now if we could steer away from those “What is…?” subject headings, we might begin to see consumer-facing pharmaceutical ads that read less like a child’s first reader from the early 1960s. These desperate measures to ensure clarity are completely unnecessary. What’s needed is the common sense to realize your audience also has common sense.


0 Responses to “Humanizing Pharma Advertising”



  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Mark Laporta

Writer, Creative Consultant
New York, NY

m.laporta@verizon.net
LinkedIn

Archives

______________________________

Enter your email address to receive notification of new posts.

______________________________
______________________________
Top Marketing Sites
Blogarama - The Blog Directory
Marketing Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory
Alltop, all the top stories
HE Blog Directory
WEB LOG SHOW
Subscribe in Bloglines
Add to Google Reader or Homepage
______________________________
______________________________

%d bloggers like this: