Visual aids retain an important place in pharma marketing

Pharmaceutical CommercePharmaceutical Commerce - July/August 2012

Agency wins a 'campaign of the year' award from its client, Abbott Labs, for medical display

As pharma marketers race to get social media, multichannel marketing and other digital media programs in place, it’s easy to overlook the tried-and-true techniques of the past. But Noble Rx Marketing (Orlando, FL), a product design/development company specializing in educational displays, hopes to remind marketers of the value of this communication tool. In 2010, it began the “ideation” process (as it calls it) for Trilipix (fenofibrate), a triglyceride-control product that has been marketed by Abbott since 2008. The goal was simple: to produce, as a display for doctors’ offices or pharmacies, an educational tool that can illustrate triglycerides in the bloodstream, accompanied by educational materials to explain what the treatment options are.

The display, launched in early 2011, “changed the curve” of doctor and patient interest in the condition and its therapeutic options; Abbott gave it a “marketing campaign of the year” award, and this year, it is a contender in the MM&M Awards sponsored by Medical Marketing & Media. (Entries for this year have closed; the award winners will be announced in October.)

The Trilipix display (photo) is instantly eye-catching. Four lab-style vials show representations of healthy to unhealthy triglyceride levels in the bloodstream; surrounding text, as well as a pull-out card, and note pad on the bottom of the display, provide additional information to the viewer. As one Abbott executive noted to Noble, “the vial imagery makes [the concept] real; you can’t see or feel cholesterol.” Noble went on to produce alternative presentations, including a wallet-size vial container that reps can easily carry; a wall poster; and a simple pop-up display.

Jeff Baker, president of Noble Rx Marketing, says that it’s easy to overlook visual aids in designing an educational program simply because managers and creatives might not have the conceptual insight to get the process started. Also, visual aids, as a type of office leave-behind, got swept up in the general ban on pens, coffee cups and other giveaways that used to be so common in pharma marketing. Baker adds that even when the right idea is present, executing on it can be difficult. “These displays required extensive engineering, clinical studies for reference, regulatory approval and a mass production recipe to keep up with demand in the thousands for widely used chronic care drugs.” To address these concerns, the company’s process controls and vertical integration expedites the entire process to get product to market. And, he concludes, the results of this campaign validate the time-honored “seeing is believing” approach to educational marketing—when the right visual aids can be developed.

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