Astellas boosts pharma's rep with corporate branding push

Astellas worked with CNN to develop the ad and with Edelman on corporate reputation and branding.

Pharma company Astellas has launched a corporate branding ad with CNN that showcases the work of its employees to help patients.

The ad is part of a long-term corporate branding strategy it has worked on for several years. The company worked with CNN to develop the ad and with Edelman on corporate reputation and branding.

"Our company is only 11 years old and we are the product of a merger of two other Japanese companies," said Jeff Winton, chief communications officer at Astellas. "Obviously from a corporate branding standpoint, whenever you start over instead of using one of the predecessor's names you're starting from scratch again. We want to make sure our name was recognized, well known, and respected."

The spot is running during on the show "CNN Heroes" on CNN and HLN in the U.S. and on CNN International through March 2017.

While CNN's ratings are higher in an election year, Winton said that wasn't the only reason Astellas partnered with the network.

"'CNN Heroes' is the part of CNN that makes people feel really good," Winton said. "It's the unsung heroes. We tried it last year, working with this particular segment of CNN, and it worked really well."

The ad showcases Astellas' employees and how the work they do helps patients. Winton said the target audience is the average CNN watcher, but it is also intended for Astellas employees, who Winton said are the company's "brand ambassadors." The spot is also running on screens in Astellas' U.S. headquarters for them to see, he added.

See also: Cigna's first global brand campaign targets expats

Earlier this year, Pfizer began a similar effort celebrating the work put into developing new drugs. Pharmaceutical companies are promoting the work of their staffers in an attempt to boost not only their individual reputations, but that of the industry as a whole in the wake of a decline in reputation largely due to pricing scandals, Winton noted.

"It's not only helping to hopefully elevate the reputation of the industry, but also to educate the public what this business is about," he said. "This industry has not done a good job in the past explaining what goes into the development of drugs and not done a good job talking about failures. Fortunately it's not too late; we still have the opportunity to get it right."

This story was first published by PRWeek.