All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy

It’s done!  After months of wild hours, crazy timelines, and bizarre changes in direction, the campaign is complete and ready to be launched next week.  Next week the ads will start appearing in physician & pharmacist publications so all you respiratory physicians who read this blog should keep your eyes peeled.  I’m not going to mention the name of the product because I don’t want someone from my work to Google the drug and find me.  In addition to the advertising, we’re providing all new selling materials to the sales force and they will be communicating these new core messages all over the United States.  Just think, your primary care doctor is going to be hearing a sales pitch that I helped develop, that almost makes me famous, right?  Okay, maybe it’s not that cool, but it’s been a long and frantic process and I definitely feel a sense of accomplishment for now. 

For those of you who are somewhat interested in this topic, here’s a thirty second background of how we got to this place.  For the first month we do extensive research on our own product and our competition.  We really evaluate what we do well, what differentiates us, what our brand personality is, and what positive traits that we have that our target audience doesn’t know about.  We interview tons of customers, we look at all kinds of prescribing data, there’s a company called IMS Health who tracks all the prescriptions dispensed at pharmacies from around the country to give pharmaceutical companies an idea of how often docs are prescribing your drug.  This data can be useful, but it’s sort of like TV ratings, this data comes from select pharmacies and they use that data to project national figures.  Once we have gotten ourselves into a state of analysis paralysis, we move into the next phase of development, concept testing. 

You can’t just tell your creative team (artists and copywriters) to lock themselves into a room and come up with some cool ad concepts.  You have to boil down all the data you’ve acquired and create a little sheet that sums it all up.  Different ad agencies call this sheet different things, some call it a brand footprint, some call it a brand blueprint, some call it a creative brief, it is basically the foundation of all things you do moving forward, it’s what the creative team uses to develop concepts and it’s what the account team uses to evaluate and critique those concepts.  A tiny bit of our critique is based on if it looks cool or not, but most of our comments are around how well the creative execution delivers the brand footprint.  Once we have about 3 or 4 concepts, we test them with all kinds of physicians and whoever else might be an audience to these ads.  Simultaneously, we think of all claims that we could make about our product and test them with potentially audiences.  Once we figure out the best claims and the best concepts, we start building the actual ads and sales materials.   

The final hurdle is getting these materials reviewed by lawyers, medical specialists, and regulatory people to ensure that this campaign is appropriate and won’t get anyone in trouble.  It’s a good idea to run your ideas by these folks well in advance, otherwise you can do a lot of work and have it all taken away because the lawyer says we cannot say a claim or use an image.  In previous agencies, we’ve had work rejected at this point because the drug was indicated for people over 12 and there was an image of a young Asian girl who was 13, but looked younger, we had to do another photoshoot, which cost us a lot of money.  

For the past couple of weeks I was really focused on production.  I just needed everything printed, sent to the right places, packed in the right quantities, and produced at the right quality.  Yesterday, the day before the meeting finally began, our last shipment arrived.  We cut it very close, but there were a lot of reasons for that, and I don’t want to bore you.

My good friend, Jay, asked me a good question, “What do you do now?” 

For now, we unleash the campaign and see what happens.  We start gathering data, we see how if these new concepts and messages really help physicians understand all the excellent things our product offers.  We also see how our competition is reacting.  Maybe our competition is releasing their own campaigns and making claims against us.  We take it all in and develop a plan on how to respond.  In addition, we didn’t do every conceivable thing on this launch, so we’ll fill in some of those gaps in the upcoming months.  The good news is, it’s not going to be nearly as urgent as it was this time around. 

I just bought season passes to the aquarium.  The Deem family is going to the aquarium a 100 times this year, we’re going to milk these passes for all they’re worth.  If anyone’s every interested in going with us, just let me know. 

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