Pharma insight on digital marketing, social media, mobile apps, online video, websites and interactive healthcare tools
by Dominic Tyer
Boehringer Ingelheim will finally launch its Facebook game Syrum next month in London.
Billed as a cross between the hugely popular FarmVille and Pokemon games, Syrum – a play on 'serum' - will see players compete to develop lifesaving medicines, run their own laboratories and try to bring new drugs to market.
The game has been much anticipated – in certain pharma digital circles at least – but development has been slower than expected, with a number of revisions delaying its planned late 2011 launch.
Development of the game has been overseen by Boehringer's director of digital John Pugh, who says a beta version of Syrum will be unveiled on September 13.
This will take place at the London conference of PSFK, a US aggregation company with whom Boehringer has a 'content curation' partnership for its Facebook page as well as plans to work with on a new blog.
Speaking to PMLiVE earlier this year Pugh said the Boehringer's aim with the Syrum is “to build a new communications channel and to enter into a dialogue with stakeholders”.
Drawing parallels with Pfizer UK's hard-hitting Real Danger anti-counterfeiting campaign, Pugh said: “We're hoping that this can also build some bridges [for the industry] as well and explain some of the reasons why we do what we do.”
Syrum will challenge players to discover new cures for diseases, create stable drug treatments and set up clinical trials in order to be able to launch the drug and cure the disease.
Intended as a “social game”, Syrum will combine elements of trading cards with Facebook functionality. Players will be able to use the social network's mobile 'check-ins' to earn in-game rewards and connect with their Facebook friends to collaborate on molecule development.
Boehringer hopes to attract as broad an audience as possible, from industry, agencies, healthcare professionals, patient groups, medical schools and beyond.
“If FarmVille can reach 96m people and I can reach half of a per cent of that, then I'll be really, really happy,” Pugh said.