Lady Gaga and biotech brands

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Lady Gaga and biotech brands
Lady Gaga and biotech brands

How to be true to your audience by keeping it new.

Have you heard Lady Gaga's song, “Born This Way”? All I could think as she was carried onto the Grammy stage in a translucent egg was, “Hey! That's a Madonna song!” It may be called  “tribute” in the music industry, but in the world of biotech branding, it's just a recycled idea.

Pass the stereotype!

Anyone working in biotech branding knows it's vital to keep ads surprising and fresh. The opposite of this is what we see way too often in medical advertising.

Men look trim and spry, sometimes appear sorrowful if they have overlooked signs of, say, a heart attack. Women appear tidy and nonthreatening and, if seniors, are carefully coiffed and are wearing mauve.

Nobody looks like a real patient—they're models (and be careful when you choose photo buyouts, or your patient could resurface in an ad for just about anything).

Can the cliché!

Clichés can abound not just in how patients look, but also in the way their pasttimes are portrayed.

It's as though the ad agency team has never really seen or listened to these patients—and the results bring about images we've seen again and again: people on the beach, with or without straw hats, men playing golf, women tending gardens, people climbing mountains.

Somehow these clichés have become shorthand for what people do when they're cured of what ails them. And the results are often boring and trite.

Playing doctor

It can be really amusing to start noticing the actors or models portraying physicians in TV and print ads.

Often, it's pretty obvious they've been handed glasses and a white coat and have been asked to look authoritative. Good thing they don't have to pronounce the drug's generic name!

Rarely do ads use real doctors (paging Dr. Jarvis) and often, it shows.

Brands—and patients—deserve better

Most brand managers I've worked with are passionate about their brands and care deeply about the patients their products treat. So there's no reason to use tired, recycled ideas. (What was Gaga thinking? If I wanted to hear Madonna, I'd dust off some LPs.)

Instead, brand managers should insist on creating advertising that's groundbreaking, and authentic to the patients whose lives we hope every day to improve.

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