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Case Study: Living Like You

Honest information from real people about the real challenges MS sufferers face

Published: 13 Jan 2017

Living like you

Client: Novartis Pharma AG

Agency: Creation

Campaign: Living Like You

Timescale: N/A

A quick look

You’re a woman in the prime of your life, with kids, a husband and a fast-paced job. You’ve just been told you have MS. And when you research your condition online all you find is an abundance of static, scary information and symptom checklists. What’s missing is real, honest information about what it’s like to live with MS, what it’s like to work with MS, how to explain it to children or what sex with your spouse will be like. In 2014, Novartis Pharma AG created ‘Living Like You’, a global community driven by patients, for patients.

Along with their agency Creation, they partnered with leading MS bloggers around the world to share real, raw and relevant stories that the MS community needs. Activated through social media with content like ‘[Stuff] people say about MS’ and ‘Sex and the Sclerosis’, they’ve changed the MS experience, to create a new kind of advocacy: advocacy for a life after diagnosis.

Challenge

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the nervous system and impacts an estimated 2.5 million people around the world. Most people with MS are diagnosed in the prime of their lives, already juggling career ambitions, busy personal lives and countless responsibilities.

So what did people in the prime of their lives find when first undertaking an online search about their MS? Unfortunately, despite the fact that MS is mentioned every 13 seconds online, the information available was overwhelming dry and static - whether scientific language on the mechanisms of the nervous system or complex information on treatment offerings.

If you were newly diagnosed, this is what you would be greeted with. What was missing was real, honest information about what it’s like to live with MS. What it’s like to work with this disease. What it’s like to explain MS to your children. What sex with your spouse will be like; all things people living with MS deserve to know. They didn’t want to hear from industry, they wanted to hear from each other. They wanted honest information from real people about the real challenges they would face. They wanted to feel a connection.

Solution

In 2014, Novartis Pharma AG, in partnership with communications agency Creation, created ‘Living Like You’, a global community driven by patients, for patients. Living Like You, an online lifestyle content hub, features content created in partnership with leading MS bloggers around the world - raw, real and relevant stories the MS community needs. The Living Like You blogger network includes people living with and impacted by MS from Brazil, Canada, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and the US.

People living with MS - twice as many women as men - are hyper-engaged online. A thorough analysis of online conversations between women with MS sparked the idea. A main focus of all conversations (46%) was on how they live with the disease. They rally around one another. They understand the unique ways MS changes  their lives. Not only are they able to talk about it, they’re able to laugh about it. To be relevant and meaningful to the MS audience, content had to be honest. It also had to be provocative, embarrassing and even moving.

On ‘Living Like You’, nothing is off the table - topics covered include everything from sex to marijuana, depression to relationships and more. In February 2015, Novartis and Creation also launched #MSLifeHacks: a campaign that shared one helpful tip for life with MS each day for a year.

Activated through social media and featuring content like ‘[Stuff] people say about MS’ and ‘Sex and the Sclerosis’, Novartis and Creation changed the MS experience, to bring patients together to create a new kind of advocacy: advocacy for a life after diagnosis.

Results

‘Living Like You’ has empowered the MS community. It’s broken the mould for digital disease awareness, shifting the conversation from diagnosis and treatment to lifestyle - what the patients truly care about most. From 2014 to 2015, the content hub (www.livinglikeyou.com) earned more than 825,000 site visits, 1.2 million page views and nearly 150,000 social media engagements. ‘Living Like You’ also grew a social following of over 15,000 and reached an estimated audience of 179 million people through #MSLifeHacks.

Client verdict

"This was a refreshingly bold and brave campaign, which really broke new ground to encourage open and real discussion. This initiative was built on a robust patient insight and a solid strategy, with tangible outcomes. The website has fabulous and relevant content which has sparked interest and debate." Communiqué Judges' comments.

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