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Smart Thinking blog

Insights and expert advice on the key issues facing today’s pharma marketer

An open letter to international brand teams

Abottom-up perspective on the development of international brands and campaigns
David Anderson

Dear international brand teams,

Hello from the end of the earth, the land of hobbits, Sauvignon Blanc and bungee jumping - 100% pure New Zealand.

Of course, you may already know that, but you may be surprised to hear that this little country of 4.5 million is also the land of a tough-negotiating drug-buying agency (the government), and one of the few places where DTC advertising is legal. (Yes, we think we are a bit special.)

And like other countries around the world, many of our clients have the support of international brand teams like you.

International brand teams are great! 

You do all the heavy lifting when it comes to building a brand, sorting out logos, colours, fonts and whatnot. 

And if we are lucky, you've also trawled the stacks of clinical literature and created a thorough core claims document that points to the key selling benefits, or created a whizzy mode of action animation (put your 3D glasses on now!).

It's just that… some of the brand manuals that you provide have the communication campaign interwoven with the mandatory brand details.

This is where the love starts to fade.

We all agree that consistent worldwide branding should be mandatory: same logo, font, colours, icons…. but please, please allow us flexibility with the communication campaign.

We're not out to reinvent the wheel if we don't have to, but we will need to localise the campaign and do what is right for our physicians and our patients.

Getting back to the New Zealand market, we often need to create campaigns featuring only indications that a drug is funded for, or create an impactful, engaging, consumer-facing campaign.

All of which can become very hard - or even bloody well impossible - when you 'must' comply with the campaign outlined in the official brand manual that doesn't allow for our single indication, or only includes assets relevant to a medical campaign.

So in the spirit of a United Nations-style global partnership, here are a few suggestions from an end user when you are setting up your brand and campaign guidelines:

  1. Keep the brand and the campaign elements distinct, to allow relevant local campaigns to be created if needed
  2. Communicate that the brand is mandatory; the campaign optional
  3. Create a feedback loop to see how local markets have used the brand and campaign - and share the knowledge. You'd be surprised at the kind of great ideas a challenging market (like New Zealand's) can create.

Thanks for reading. And don't forget, if you ever do make it down to the bottom of the south pacific there's always a flat white coffee or a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc waiting for you.


Article by
David Anderson

Managing partner at New Zealand healthcare agency INSIGHT, a member of the Indigenus network

23rd October 2015

From: Marketing



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