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The secret to a successful brand launch: being in it together

By Natalie Hoegen

Today, more than ever, success is non-negotiable and that is even more true regarding drug launches.

With the era of blockbusters now finally gone, successful drug launches have become even more critical to both ‘big pharma’ and biotech start-up companies, with navigating complex internal and external landscapes often adding to the challenge. There are many insights, recommendations and strategies about what the ingredients for a successful launch are, yet nearly 50% of drug launches underperform against expectations. Clearly, it remains a bit of a secret recipe, sadly not as foolproof as the recipe for banana bread.

In my experience both in-house and in- agency, launch excellence is a delicate recipe perfected over years of tinkering. Yes, we need basic ingredients like medical foundations, strategic insight and efficient activation plans, but the real magic ingredients are care and appetite – you have to want to go that one step further to get the perfect result.

A trusted pair of hands

Let’s talk a bit about experience. I once had a client say that a unique aspect of being agency side is that we have the opportunity to launch many exciting, challenging, first-of- their-kind drugs, whereas some marketeers only have the chance to do so a handful of times. Agencies are in a rare position, having honed and evolved their launch experiences into expertise. We are able to provide a trusted pair of hands to shepherd clients through increasingly dynamic times.

Equally, having had a broad scale of launches helps develop that intangible Spidey-sense for innovation that matters. Not the next shiny thing, but an idea that goes beyond to engage and activate behaviours.

At Havas Life Medicom (HLM), we work with the idea of uncovering the human purpose that unites patients, prescribers, even marketeers – the emotional authenticity behind the why. If recent events have taught us anything, it is that people matter, our emotions matter and emotions can unite us. Having a specialist team searching to find these emotional insights is critical to the launch puzzle.

An integrated viewpoint

I believe that agency diehards can make a true difference using our integrated viewpoint. We bring together experts, making us greater than the sum of our parts. Being able to identify the strategic theme that connects individual programmes with a view to elevate the value to the end customer is a skill. It means stepping over your own shadow and putting the patient, the brand and the launch first, and bringing ideas to the table that better the brand, not the agency.

Ensuring that all team members share that same drive and common purpose is another crucial aspect to being truly integrated. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it, but how often have workstreams been disconnected?

Has there been a lack of communication between the medical left hand and the marketing right hand? This approach works best when client and agency communicate as one with a common goal: to make a meaningful difference to patients.

Having worked on a few launches that have smashed expectations, I have learned to champion my own style of brand navigation. I see it as having enough knowledge of the day-to-day from medical, promotional, PR, patient, digital, social and internal, with a helicopter view of the strategic direction we are heading in, to be able to seamlessly supercharge one another. I would describe it as ‘zoom in’ and ‘zoom out’ functionality. At HLM, we have senior experts working on day-to-day projects with a vision to elevate what we do.

The secret ingredient

Maybe that’s due to the last ingredient – care. Caring about what we do and caring about what it means to patients. Recently, my own health experiences have opened my eyes to being a patient and what makes a difference when it comes to treatment. One of the nicest things a client has said is that they could feel our team truly cares.

At HLM, we see ourselves as ‘nannies’ in a drug life cycle. We are there with clients to make sure their brands gets the best start in life, and we want to see it through until their brands are ready to go off to university. We are there to care as much as if those brands were our very own.

After all, we are in this together and together we can exceed all expectations, because together we set the pace, we plan the road ahead and we shape what success looks like.

So, when looking for that secret recipe for launch success, consider partnership with an agency as the foundation of all that you can achieve together. Find somebody who cares as much about the brand, the patient and the team as you do. I, for one, can’t think of a better way to work. That’s why I do what I do. What about you?

Natalie Hoegen is Senior Client Services Director at Havas Life Medicom

In association with

19th May 2021

From: Marketing

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