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Comment: AstraZeneca's branded approach to YouTube

Company takes the path less travelled for pharma social media initiatives

AstraZeneca AZ Nexium YouTube channel 

AstraZeneca has launched a branded YouTube channel to promote its blockbuster gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) treatment Nexium (esomprazole).

It's an unusual step as far as pharma social media initiatives go, which are usually not brand-specific, but the company is positioning it as “a more personal approach to connecting with Nexium patients”.

The drug is one of the top-selling pills in the US, but as generic competition begins to bite AZ's post-patent expiry plans include last year striking a deal with Pfizer for the OTC rights to its 'purple pill'.

The distinctive branding of Nexium, whose drug.com website is simply purplepill.com, is carried through to the new YouTube channel which is named AZ Purple Zone.

AZ's YouTube presence already includes two corporate channels, but the company appears further attracted by a combination of the video network's large user base and social media's growing role in the provision of health information.

Writing on AZ's Health Connections blog, Ken Graham, commercial business leader GI, said: “With 72 per cent of adult internet users looking on the internet for health information in the past year, AstraZeneca believes that it is important to share information with patients by engaging with them online.

“In today's digital age, technology is a compass for how we communicate and share health and wellness information. With more than one billion unique users visiting YouTube each month, this platform allows AstraZeneca to connect with patients.”

Intended for a US audience, the Nexium YouTube channel will offer patients education, support and information about AZ's money-off savings card for the drug.

Marta Illueca, AZ's executive director medical affairs and strategic development for Cornerstone Brands, said: "The Nexium channel represents a new and innovative way through which we're looking to reach and engage patients."

Although its first videos are Nexium adverts, AZ plans a regular, weekly series of “Burning thoughts” on how to control GERD symptoms

The YouTube channel also incorporates a Facebook widget to share information about the Nexium savings card with their friends and family.

AstraZeneca has already turned to social media to promote its patient savings schemes: setting up the @AZHelps Twitter account in 2010, running pharma's tweet chat (#RXsave) a year later and then more recently, but in a less organised vein, experimenting with Twitter's video platform Vine.

17th July 2013

From: Marketing

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