The pharmaceutical industry best known for mass-market advertising and relentless sales representatives chasing down doctors. But FDA promotional restrictions have caused pharma firms to fear and loath Internet marketing. But Sanofi Aventis’s promotion via YouTube gives us pause and hope.
The Sanofi ad below, which mentions no product or benefits, but has full “fair balance” of risks (odd), leads us to a YouTube channel that educates consumers on insulin… via the most visceral form of media (video). Presumably the initiative is “unbranded” promotion for the newly launched Apidra (although I didn’t see any evidence of the product except for its risks).
The branded channel shows that YouTube is providing ways for highly-regulated pharmaceutical marketers to balance content on what YouTube calls “branded channels.” There’s full fair balance, and links to Sanofi’s websites.
What I like about this campaign is that the YouTube advertisements don’t try to take people away from YouTube (recent studies show that YouTubers watch exponentially more videos than those making brief visits to other video sites). Furthermore, Sanofi’s unbranded website (GoInsulin) has a “callout” back to the YouTube site, where consumers are far more likely to engage for longer.
One interesting advantage pharmaceutical marketers have over their consumer-product goods counterparts is that the FDA restrictions placed on pharma brands are consistant with social media rules. The FDA limits promotion, so pharmaceutical brands “soft sell” online (no clear guidelines exist), and use education and unbranded promotion. That approach is far more appropriate than the “mass market” television ads and pushy sales reps that did not help the Rx industry reputation.