We in the DTC community are always arguing about the benefit of “unbranded,” “disease state” or “information-seeking” advertising. There are many pros and cons in this debate and it's true that there's no consensus as to the benefit, or even the ROI, of such an effort. One thing is for sure though — it's hard to think of any other category that would even consider advertising without a brand at the center. This is but one of the unique opportunities we have in DTC.
One big therapeutic category that's never been plumbed for DTC is hypertension. The key reason is that it's very complex, with multiple drug classes and multiple brands within the classes, which makes it a challenge for any one brand to stand out. Novartis, along with their agencies Hill Holliday and MEC/MediaEdge, have finally tackled hypertension in a very smart way with their “1 in 3 people” campaign. You might say that the campaign is below radar because it's only online — but that's OK because the message is very compelling and the campaign is meant to “go viral” through social media channels.
At the heart (no pun intended) of this fully integrated online campaign is a video that shows a little girl counting off 1-2-3 people in many everyday situations, emphasizing the prevalence of high blood pressure. The website is loaded with facts and stats meant to educate and guide the visitor towards treatment. Of course, once you answer a question about a type of treatment in which you're interested, you officially leave the site and connect to Novartis. It's a very clear break, and at that point, brand education begins. But that's another story.
Deborah Dick-Rath is SVP, healthcare practice leader, at FactorTG. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org