Yes, Pringles. The potato chip. Actually, technically speaking, they are potato crisps. Crisps or chips, I realized that there’s something that Pringles can teach pharma and healthcare. First, some backstory and a disclosure.
Last week was the Cannes Advertising Festival. It’s the Oscars of the ad world for those who aren’t familiar. The awards are given out in many different categories, but since this is a blog focused on e-marketing, I’m going to just talk about the “Cyber” category, which is all about digital. The Cyber awards represent the best of the best in digital marketing in every industry. Why do I suddenly care so much about the Cannes awards and Pringles? Well, our agency, Bridge Worldwide, happens to be the digital agency of record for Pringles. And, we created a banner ad (yes, banner ad) that won a Gold Cyber Lion award.
The more I looked at the ad, the more I thought that it just might relate to pharma. How can a Pringles banner ad tell us anything about digital marketing in pharma and healthcare? Great question. First, before we move on, check out the ad. Follow this link to check out “Can Hands.” The banner’s in the lower right…just keep clicking as long as you’d like. People who have commented on the ad call it “the only banner you’ll love to click.” You need to check it out for the rest of the post to make sense, so we’ll wait.
Now, if that didn’t at least amuse you, I’m not sure what else to tell you. I’m getting to the tie-in with pharma, but just so you know, I’m not going for some cheap publicity for this ad by writing about it here. It doesn’t need my help. Much to our surprise, this ad was (and still is) the talk of the Internet over the weekend. It’s showed up on the front pages of Reddit, Fark, and Buzzfeed. Of course, it’s been all over Twitter as well with well over 2000 tweets and more than 14,000 clicks on the shortened bit.ly URL alone. The link to the ad demo was the 4th most tweeted on all of Twitter on Saturday according to Twitturly. Without giving away too much confidential information, this ad has been viewed more than 125,000 times in the past two days. People going out of their way to see an ad.
So why am I telling you this? Simple, does anyone ever go out of their way to see your ad?
Let’s get a few things out in the open. Consumer packaged goods isn’t pharma. I know it. Remember, I used to be a pharma marketer, so I haven’t forgotten the rules. Pringles has a whole different set of rules compared to pharma. I know it. I also know that potato crisps or chips or whatever isn’t the same as treating a disease. Got it. But, let’s put that all aside for just a minute. Let’s look at what’s possible. For me, this is the only way we find things that are truly different, unique, and stand out with our customers.
Imagine that Pringles was a pharma product for a minute. There’s no fair balance here, but it wouldn’t require it. The brand name is mentioned (if you click a few times), but nowhere does it include the “indication:” potato crisps. I guess this makes this banner a reminder ad then.
We pharma people love and hate reminder ads. We love them because we can promote the brand without the clutter of fair balance, but we hate them because we can’t get in any key messages. Regardless, pharma spends a lot of money on these. My point? If Pringles were pharma, this ad would be regulatory compliant. Just saying.
Now, just to be clear, I’m not recommending that every pharma company make an ad like this. The whole talk about regulations is all academic. No pharma ad could probably get away with this tone. I’m actually not recommending that anyone make an ad like this. It’s been done. No one can really create a “never-ending banner” like this one anymore. But what I am saying is that there’s something for pharma to learn here.
This is what pharma banner ads look like today:
The Premarin Banner (with the cloud) on the bottom at least has some animation, albeit odd and “icky” animation.
I’ll just leave it at that rather than ask a lot of questions about what purple rain has to do with vaginal dryness.
Now, don’t feel bad if you think you banner ad stinks. Most banner ads are terrible regardless of the industry. Pharma isn’t a special exception. But, as the Pringles banner shows, there’s a way to make any advertising interesting and engaging. It just requires looking at things differently. So instead of relying completely on agencies that only have pharma experience (and pair it up with ours that might be about the same), maybe it’s time to look beyond pharma to see how everyone else is doing it. We know that we can’t do the exact same things other industries might try because of regulatory issues, but I also know that doing the same things we’ve always done in pharma isn’t good enough anymore either. This might be one of the times where the answer lies outside of our industry.
To be sure, I’m not recommending that you run out and make banner ads. I have no idea if you need banner ads or if they are part of your strategy. I want you to look bigger picture and realize that there are whole groups of really smart people that we don’t listen to because they aren’t in the pharma club or don’t know the handshake. Last time I checked, the pharma industry wasn’t doing that well at least compared to historical results. Maybe there’s no time like the present to start trying a new approach. Your equivalent Pringles banner ad may be a really innovative disease management tool or amazing caregive support website. Just keep going until you make whatever it is you are doing something that you can imagine people sharing on Twitter. Do you think we thought this would happen for a banner ad for potato crisps? Yes and no.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned since starting to work at my current company, it’s this: it takes very little extra effort to make something great. It takes a lot of effort something to get started and slightly more to make something good. Once you get to “good” though, there’s really not more you need to do in order to get to great. You do need the right people with the right kinds of thinking and the right amount of time and resources, but those are the ingredients. Of course, I’m making it sound really easy and leaving out one important piece: you need some brilliant creative people. It only takes one idea, but you need people who are constantly coming up with them to find the one. Fortunately, we happen to have these folks. (Read the blog “Can Hands” creator, Jason Bender, co-writes).
So, who’s ready to do things differently? If you are, but don’t see how it’s possible, here’s my offer: You pay for the normal costs to get to “good” and I’ll pay for the additional thinking required to make it great. Don’t think it’s possible to make something share-worthy in pharma? Then challenge us. I’m glad to make it public challenge if you’d like (and put the reputation of this blog on the line) just to be able to show that it’s possible. It’s time for something different in pharma and healthcare. The only question is who goes first. If you’re ready, head over to the contact page and let’s get started. One caveat…this has to start with a “big pharma” company because if it can be done there, then it can be done anywhere. So, if you’re a top 20 pharma company (and I know you’re here), you’re eligible for this offer.
We’re ready for your challenge. All this talk about Pringles is making me crave a Super Stack.