The eleven briefs of Pharma.

It is thought that there are eleven rules for writing jokes.

Scott Dikkers, a founding editor of The Onion claims that every joke can be categorised in one of 11 funny filters.

For instance; irony, character, reference, shock, parody..etc (read the full article here)

There are, if you can be bothered to google them, six golden rules of storytelling and ten golden rules of gardening.

(Note to self: I must read that gardening one.)

There’s probably four rules for taking a poo at work and five rules for tap-dancing at funerals, for all I know.

In fact any job, pastime or bodily function, can probably be broken down in to a list of key guidelines.

But what of our beloved pharma advertising?

Can we break down the myriad of brands, disease awareness and internal comms in to a simple list of 11 briefs?

Well, I reckon it’s worth a shot, dammit. You’re welcome.

  1. A better quality of life for your patient.

This is the mainstay of pharma briefs and probably the most common. That horrible disease or condition can be alleviated in some way and or stopped or reversed or partially delayed without throwing-up ten times a day. One week on this little pill and your patients could be walking on a beach hand in hand or playing golf in no time, possibly even vegetable gardening or attending a daughter’s wedding. (Interestingly, it’s never a son’s wedding). And FYI – the older couple on the beach, for those paying attention, drowned in 2011.

2. With this new tool you will feel all powerful.

Yes, whether you’re an oncologist or ophthalmologist or endocrinologist you sure are lucky-lucky-lucky. But it won’t take away all that expertise you have gained over the last twenty years if that’s what you are worried about, oh no. You are a wizard in your field! a genius…so…you know…now you’re a BETTER WIZARD.

3. This is how the molecule works.

When I first got into Pharma I thought that I would be spending most of my time on MOA videos. Well, not done one yet, so draw your own conclusions. Nevertheless these videos do crop up from time to time at awards shows and they divide into two camps. The CGI rendered biologically correct ones (non-award winning) and the artistically interpreted ones (potentially award winning). The first kind is all receptors and floaty bacterias and tumours and the second type is the same but depicted as ping-pong balls, factory workers, art galleries or a Legoland ride.

4. This disease needs some sort of unmet-need, met.

Commonly known as ‘prelaunch-campaigns’ or ‘disease awareness’ the idea is to seed the notion in your HCP’s head that there is something missing from current treatment that all the existing drugs have completely missed. For instance: they’re the Captain of the Titanic and all the current drugs are able to block holes in hulls, with rivets and metal panelling, caused by icebergs. Your campaign has to suggest something along the lines of ‘actually the real problem is going too fast and not seeing the icebergs in time to avoid them, dumbass’. The Ship’s captain, in theory, then rubs their chin and agrees that yes that would be handy as if only thinking this for the first time. But, you know…nothing like that exists so…what to do. Then lo and behold the next time they’re in Frankfurt at the conference for Ocean-liner-iceberg-related-sinking-syndrome they visit the stand with a big sign that reads: ICEBERGATRIX’ the first of a new class of iceberg avoidance medication. And everything suddenly joins up.

5. This will help you cope with your disease a bit better.

Not all pharma solutions are molecule based. Sometimes there are drug-adjacent solutions. Like the kebab van at a football ground, or Guinness at Twickenham, they enhance the experience. It might be a support network or an app to help you cope or an information hub on the disease in question. It’s usually unbranded and you have to think of a catchy name like

6. You’re on our drug. Here’s some help with getting it down your neck.

Congratulations you have to take ‘Bigtoesimab’ for the rest of your life to combat massive-big-toe-syndrome. So now that you are on Bigtoesimab you may have an issue with the dosing schedule. Take three pills in the morning, two hours apart, then one pill every five minutes for 90 mins then wait twenty three minutes before taking one more and then eat some food, preferably raw red meat on a stick and then three more before bedtime then once during the night between 2am and 2.10am. Consult your GP if you are changing timezones during any of these times as the schedule should be reversed. It’s these kind of treatment regimes that can benefit from some patient materials to help manage the treatment and keep our lovely patients (sorry..’people living with big toes’) compliant and really understand the importance of these completely made up timings.

7. We have a franchise of great drugs in the pipeline. Just you wait.

Sometimes we are asked to announce the arrival of a new player in the disease area. Company X is taking disease area X very seriously and will be launching some really important things very soon. These campaigns are fun to do as you don’t have to say very much, because you don’t really have much to say. Like busting in to a bar, claiming that you’ll fight any goddam person so long as they’ll wait here for two years while you go get trained in Ju Jitsu.

8. It’s been ten years, yay!

Yes, your drug has reached the end of the line and it’s time to squeeze some marketing budget out of that lemon for one last time.

9. Don’t forget about Bigtoesimab.

Yes, treatment for massive big toe syndrome have changed a lot in the last few years. There are some newer, shinier, more efficacious and more tolerant treatments, that don’t turn your feet blue. But don’t forget that Bigtoesimab is the only treatment that tackles the causes of Big toe syndrome. So you know, if you want a reliable but slightly blue-inducing, treatment with years of real life patient data, you know where to come. It’s a shoe-in.

10. We need to inspire our internal team.

The often forgotten art of internal comms. The brief is usually, ‘get them excited about it’. Yes, it’s the launch of Littlepiggymab, the successor to Bigtoesimab, but all the Bigtoesimab team will be there so we don’t want to alienate them. So can you create an event and some materials that acknowledges the great work that the Bigtoesimab team have done and accomplished while also getting them in a frenzy about Littlepiggymab. Thanks.

11. The brief of your choice.

The not-to-be-underestimated brief that you’ve thought up yourself and then sold to the client. It’s the solution to a problem they never knew they had. See the major award shows for details.

So, this may not be a totally comprehensive list but it’s definitely the ones I could think of. Please add your suggestions for any other briefs you’d like to add to it and let’s see what I missed!

And take good care of your toes, obviously.

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