Will pharmas keep shifting duties?

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GlaxoSmithKline's decision in late 2010 to shift consumer media-planning and -buying duties for all its brands was a fresh signal that no media account is beyond review. Will we see more pharma clients rock the boat this year?

Liz O'Neil
Director of channel marketing,
Ogilvy CommonHealth Consumer Care

Pharma has to rock the boat, and 2010 showed that media was one way to shake things up. The GSK move was one of many media reviews but one of the few to result in a change of agencies. As the media landscape changes at lightning speed and portfolios come to include fewer blockbuster brands, they need to take a look at the agencies that will help them move forward in this new business environment. I believe that media has always been about efficiency first and foremost. As media mix shifts out of TV and into more innovative combinations, the need for strategic planning is key for future growth. For the media companies, this need to prove yourself and assure your clients that they are getting the best rates, the best strategic minds, the best analytics and the most comprehensive team is going to continue to be a way of life.

Bob Girondi
EVP, marketing and research,

Pharma clients must ensure success and accountability from all their expenditures. The more visible and attention-getting aspects of media spending changes have always been more obvious given third-party audits, media suppliers and others impacted when budgets are suddenly altered. Last-minute budget reductions represent a band-aid approach to expense control and can reduce promotional impact. Satisfying budget limitations while achieving desired behavioral responses are better dealt with at the source, and at the outset, to ensure proper planning and buying through application of a fully integrated and accountable process. Efficient planning, coupled with well-executed and optimized media buying, can produce required efficiencies without sacrificing results.

Mandy Buhler,
Media director,
HC&B Healthcare Communications

Pharma will continue to shift their media duties away from large, media shops to smaller, nimble media specialists that can better meet their needs. What has changed to warrant the shift? For starters, many large agencies still have separate teams for each media discipline, while the need to “speak” all media has become a necessity, not just a novelty. Add to that the passage of healthcare reform, which has created a need for many healthcare clients to be more creative in terms of strategy and communications. Specialty media teams have become the healthcare client's greatest asset in maneuvering the healthcare reform landscape, offering flexibility and creativity in planning, buying and performance reporting. Overall, clients value these smaller teams as long-term partners in their marketing strategies.

David Adelman
Managing director,
OCD Media

The last few years have seen a marked shift in the approach pharma companies are taking to market their brands. The old model was all about outbound communications, meaning that building awareness was the only goal. That meant starting and ending your plans with mass media. These days, understanding the feedback loop—how prospects interact with your website, patient education materials and their HCPs—is critical to driving patient counts up and acquisition costs down. Mass media has an important place, but is not the only tool in the shed. That being said, if an old line relationship cannot manage a comprehensive marketing effort like this, they will not keep their client for long.
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