Tuesday, November 30, 2010

America's Tweethearts Go On Strike

Oh, my god.

As if things weren't bad enough.

251,287 secret state documents leaked to the press. The Korean War on the verge of breaking out again. The economy showing very little improvement. 

And now this?

In an effort to raise $1 million for World AIDS Day (tomorrow), a number of the world's greatest minds are going on strike. 

Yes, Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Ryan Seacrest and…better sit down… two of the Kardashian sisters are removing themselves from all Twitter and Facebook activity until the goal of $1 million is reached. They're calling it the "Digital Life Sacrifice" and the picture above is from an ad promoting the campaign.

I know what you're thinking. 

"Shades of Dr. Evil! They're holding us hostage until we pay the money. How can America get through the day without knowing what Kim Kardashian is having for breakfast?"

Somehow, a bunch of pseudo-celebrities think that the public is so hungry for their every tweet that it'll be willing to contribute its hard earned cash during the Great Recession.

You know what?

They're probably right. 

Well, for the benefit of the charity, anyway, I hope they are.

But the ultimate result would be if America follows Steve Colbert's suggestion on the Colbert Report last night:

The donations should stop at $999,999.99.

Then we'd have the best of both worlds.


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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Talking Turkey At The Healthcare Table

With the holidays upon us, it’s natural to think about who will be seated at the table. That’s what interests me most about Sharecare, the new healthcare site founded by WebMD founder, Jeff Arnold: checking out who's sitting around the table.

Sharecare lets patients search for answers to common health questions, and ask new questions. Answers are provided by a bevy of non-profit health care experts including The Cleveland Clinic, The Red Cross, and the American Heart Association. But sponsors, such as Pfizer, J&J, Dove and Walgreens were also invited to the table.

This “participatory” sponsorship is a marked departure from the usual practice of seating sponsors at the “kiddy table,” while the grown-ups talk about the serious stuff. The site trusts that its sponsors will “behave” and provide answers untainted by commercial interest. Some things don’t change, however. Sponsors have to fork over several million dollars in order to participate.

The site clearly references the source of every answer. In a recent New York Times article, Arnold claimed that, “in tests of the Web site in the last year, the brand answers were read as much as the expert answers.”

The article reports that sponsors take their seats with the intention of minding their table manners and not do any overt selling. Pfizer, for example, will provide information on fibromyalgia and smoking cessation, but not about its products that treat those conditions. According to Paul Ewing, senior director for patient marketing at the United States primary-care business unit of Pfizer in New York, the company’s rationale for participating, “stems from a belief that informed people make better decisions about their health… and have better interactions with their health care providers.”

Not everyone, however, is happy about the new table mates. Headlines of blogs covering the post point to a graying of the line between professional content and information (The Medical Quack) and the forming of an unhealthy alliance (The Healthcare Marketer).

But in my opinion, this could be a meaningful way for pharmaceutical companies to participate in interactive communities. Pharma has spent years accumulating scientific information and developing relationships with experts. This is the kind of information that communities crave and the type of action that builds good will over time.

Who knows? Maybe if pharma keeps this up, they won’t even have to pay to sit at the table.

Probably a little holiday wishful thinking!


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Saturday, November 20, 2010

'Tis the Season to Be Wondering

Is it me, or does the Christmas season start a little earlier every year?

This year, the leftover Halloween candy wasn't even gone from our kitchen counter (and it goes pretty quickly at our house), before the interminable sound of Sugar Plum Fairies began dancing in my head. 

Those damned holiday songs were already on the radio, TV, and department store PA systems. 

Bah, humbug.

Excuse me, but didn't proper holiday etiquette used to dictate that the Christmas season will not start until after Thanksgiving?

In fact, wasn't the official opening of the season Santa's appearance on the VERY LAST float of the the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade?

Yes, Virginia, it was.

Between the effects of global warming and the ever sliding holiday schedule, it seems as though the whole concept of seasons has been redefined since I was a kid.

I'm a true believer in the power of transformational marketing, but this is ridiculous. 

The way things are going, I won't be surprised if not very long from now, the Christmas season starts a few days after the 4th of July. 


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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dorothy's DTC Hall of Fame Acceptance Speech

Last night, I was privileged to be inducted into the DTC Hall of Fame, along with some of my esteemed industry colleagues – Minnie Baylor-Henry, National Director, Regulatory Life Sciences, Deloitte & Touche, LLP and former DDMAC Director; Andrew Schirmer, EVP, Managing Director, McCann HumanCare and Scott Grenz, Director Media Buying NA,GlaxoSmithKline. I was very touched by how many of my colleagues, past and present, came to celebrate with me. We were given the opportunity to make a few remarks, so being a typical Extrovert, I took full advantage of my time in the spotlight. Below is what I said, or more accurately, what I meant to say!

“I am very honored to be inducted into the DTC Hall of Fame. I have always admired the company Bob has built and his thoughtful commentary. The occasion also serves for me as an important reminder of something I should be doing more of everyday: thinking of all the people I am grateful to for having guided me throughout my career.

I am grateful to have started my career at Whitehall-Robins, now Wyeth Consumer, working for Andy Davis and Holly Crosbie-Foote, both of whom encouraged me to let my creative juices flow. I somehow have always been a little different and they cheered me on. I am equally as grateful to Randy Goldmann, who I had the privilege to work for at Pfizer. She taught me how to channel some of my enthusiasm so it could actually be productive. I also thank Mike Trepicchio of SaatchiHealthcare for giving me the opportunity to learn what life is like on the agency side. It’s a little harder than it looked from the cushy client side seat.

Which brings me to today and Extrovertic, the agency I founded with my creative partner, Mark Drossman. We wanted to create a different kind of agency, one that could build both the innovative marketing strategies and cutting edge creative needed to infuse new life into the healthcare marketing mix.

We were very lucky for the opportunity to start working very early on with Vertex Pharmaceuticals, whose marketers have an incredible passion for their patients. It is this kind of passion to serve patients that I hope will transform the face of DTC.

One of my favorite planners of all time, Nat Puccio used to say, 'He who knows the consumer best, wins.' That saying is now foundational to any successful DTC communication effort. In the future however, we have to go further, not only to understand but also to employ our knowledge in making a tangible, lasting difference in patients’ lives. That will require going beyond our traditional communication messages and tools to address the more stubborn barriers to good health such as financial inequities, gaps in healthcare delivery and insufficient personal coping mechanisms. To all of us at Extrovertic, the maxim for 2010 and beyond is, 'He who serves the patient best, wins.'

Thanks again for the honor and I look forward to working with you all to make a difference in patients’ lives."


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