DPW Preview: INTERNATIONAL CASE STUDY: A World Class Product Launch in Six Months – An International Multichannel Marketing Case Study

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This is the fourth in a series of previews of the Digital Pharma West Conference, to be held June 24-27 in South San Francisco. Click here for information.


By Zoe Dunn, Principal, Hale Advisors

I spoke with AJ Moore, Manager, Multichannel Marketing, at SANOFI AUSTRALIA. As always, AJ’s comments are his own and don’t necessarily represent the views of his company.

At Digital Pharma West, AJ will present an international case study on the multichannel launch for Sanofi’s iBGStar blood glucose meter for the iPhone. Specifically, he’ll share how social media was used for the brand launch.

I asked AJ just how they decided to use social media for this launch.

He explained that the company had already had a social listening program underway, and had insight into the potential users of the product – people living with diabetes. His team had started with a social listening tool in diabetes, he explained, particularly looking for:

  • Unmet nonmedical needs for people living with diabetes: what blogs, forums, platforms they are using;
  • A key group of advocates championing diabetes causes in this country [Australia]. Looking at the US, there are several near-professional advocates who have sponsorship from companies;
  • What, if anything, competitors were doing;
  • Any incidents of adverse event reports that might be coming through social media.

I then asked what challenges the team met as they developed program. As with a lot of Pharma, healthcare and life sciences companies, the challenge is both internal and with regulatory bodies, as social media is relatively new and things go fairly slowly, AJ explained.

Among the key lessons, AJ pointed out, is that with any new campaign, be sure you have a very robust brief and stakeholder engagement within the organization as well as with external stakeholders. Particularly regulatory, legal, and medical teams [had to be] comfortable with the level of risk, making sure we didn’t tweet our idea as soon as we had one. “We had to have a comfort level for what we were listening for, and make sure our regulatory responsibility was met.”

From an Australian perspective, the regulatory environment precludes direct-to-consumer advertising for medications and puts some restrictions on medical devices. So, based on that no direct-to-consumer advertising, it’s fairly clear what brands can and cannot do. The social listening tool was used as a form of market research to a much broader audience, instead of 8 people in a room with one way glass, but the data that it produces is raw–very raw, he explained.

An interesting thing happened when Sanofi Australia was listening in to the social channels around diabetes.

Coca-Cola did a campaign in Australia where consumers could get a name printed on a can. This “Share a Coke with a mate” campaign was crazily popular. There was a standup comedian on national TV who joked that he wanted to get ‘diabetes’ printed on a can, which just reinforces a stereotype and untruthful information that all diabetes is due to drinking too much Coke or eating too much fast food, AJ related.

The diabetes online community went to town on this guy – ‘schooling’ this guy about the differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, basically educating this guy. “From our perspective, it was fantastic to see this quite vocal community rally a tribe to this cause. It brought up this point that these are the people who may or may not usually speak up or been champions who are becoming champions for the community.”

From this incident, they knew who the key advocates are, where they go online, how they contribute to the community. It’s a much smaller pool than the U.S., as the population of Australia is around 23 million people; there are about 1.4 million living with diabetes; and among those, between 120,000 to 140,000 people are living with Type 1, AJ says.

There were many insights – some of them just small “ahah” moments, like discovering that people with diabetes often personalize their blood glucose meter cases, like they do with iPhone cases. But for all these gems and more, you’ll have to wait until San Francisco.

Hear more from AJ at the 4th Annual Digital Pharma West, June 24-27 in South San Francisco.

Zoe Dunn
Zoe Dunn, President and CEO of Hale Advisors, is a digital marketing and communications specialist with over twenty years of experience in the field. She has extensive experience in both the agency and commercial marketing side of the pharmaceutical, medical devices, and biotech industries.

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