Ask a Celebrity If Drug X Is Right for You

Dear House Rules,

Our company is in the early stages of developing a marketing campaign for a new product. I’ve seen other pharma companies use celebrities to influence people regarding a particular brand—sometimes, it seems to work perfectly, sometimes, not so much. As for our company, we’re skeptical. Having a Kardashian endorse make-up is ideal synergy, but what credibility can a celebrity bring to a pharma brand? Where do you stand on the concept of using “influencers” in pharmaceutical marketing? Is this something we should look into?


Should I Be More Starstruck?

Dear Starstruck,

Your doubts are understandable, but you can put them aside. It’s possible to execute a strong influencer campaign—just remember that it will take longer to execute than an influencer campaign would in other industries. First off, the biggest reason that using influencers will benefit your brand is consumers are much more likely to trust and engage with influencer content than brand content. When an influencer presents branded messages, those messages feel natural and approachable from the consumer’s perspective.

One example of this is how Astra-Zeneca is using celebrity fitness trainer and coach on television’s The Biggest Loser Bob Harper in its campaign for post-heart-attack medication Brilinta. Harper proves that anyone can have a heart attack, and is a relatable figure to the large audience The Biggest Loser has accrued over many seasons. AstraZeneca reached out to Harper after hearing his survivor story and discovered that he’d been prescribed the company’s own clot-fighting drug Brilinta as part of his recovery plan, a product for which he now advocates. Sales of the drug are on the rise; in the first half of this year, Brilinta earned almost $500 million, up 28% over last year, and new scripts in the U.S. grew by more than a third.

Two things need to be considered when planning an influencer campaign. The first is mapping out exactly how you plan to use these influencers and foreseeing any regulatory hurdles you may have to overcome. The second is nailing down the right influencer, one who is ideally suited for your brand and strategy.

Qualities of the right influencer:

  • Comes with relevancy among target audience (Will your target connect with this influencer? Does the influencer have interests that are relatable to your audience? Does the reach and relevance of the influencer outweigh the price of hiring them?)
  • Followed by your target audience and engages with them
  • Uses media that that is appropriate for your brand or for the type of content your audience consumes
  •  Is comfortable with video formats (most influencers are), since the majority of branding campaigns involve one or more videos

Using these criteria will help your brand select an influencer whom your target audience will trust – one who feels natural for your brand – and an influencer who has a passion for your brand’s mission. With a wealth of experience across media platforms and branding strategies Xavier Creative House is the ideal partner to help you bring your influencer campaign from “idea” to “reality.” We’d love to hear from you!


References: 1: https://www.klick.com/health/news/blog/social/the-secret-to-influencer-marketing-in-a-pharma-world/. Accessed May 21, 2018. 2. https://www.fiercepharma.com/marketing/astrazeneca-taps-biggest-loser-host-bob-harper-for-heart-attack-survivors-campaign. Accessed May 21, 1018.

Categories: advertising, branding, consumer marketing, healthcare marketing, pharma marketing, PR, social media,

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