KEY THOUGHT: The pharma industry cannot thrive and innovate unless they recruit and hold onto talented people. Nowhere is this more true than in DTC marketing which continues on a downward spiral to the point that even marketers from other industries are asking “what is wrong with pharma?”.
When was the last time you saw an opening for a DTC marketer at a pharma or biotech company? It’s been a long time because people in those positions are politically secure and doing what is necessary to stay employed rather than do what is really needed to transform DTC marketing to make it relevant again. The image, in the OIC commercial, of a guy coming out of the bathroom like he just won the lottery says it all.
Why is this happening?
1ne: DTC marketing is stuck in the past and most DTC marketers are afraid to take risks because their legal and regulatory people are as uptight as a right wing Republican at a Bernie Sanders rally.
2wo: Too many people are in DTC positions without consumer marketing backgrounds. They came up through the ranks and are trying to follow a process which cannot and should not be applied to DTC marketing.
3hree: DTC agencies are horrible. They move from one client to another with their shoddy work.
4our: They still believe that someone is going to see a DTC spot and run to their doctor to ask for an Rx when actually they are fact checking them online.
5ive: Their expertise in digital marketing lags behind other industries because IT people have too much power and they rely too much on agencies that aren’t digital experts. Yes, there are some great ones out there like InTouch Solutions but for some reason DTC people are consolidating agencies at the expense of creative.
6ix: Talented DTC marketers have exited, either laid off or by their own choice and fresh talent, with new thinking, is avoiding a career in biopharma.
7even: Failing to take into account the “end to end” customer journey at a time when healthcare is becoming more consumer focused.
There are some DTC marketers which are fighting the battles everyday to evolve DTC but they are in the minority and as I network more and more with them, I continue to hear a level of frustration to the point they are asking themselves “if they should stay in the industry”. There are also some very good agencies out there, but consolidation dictated by procurement is hurting overall marketing.
The industry will either wake up and start hiring talent people who can disrupt organizational thinking or they will suffer. I, along with my close friend John Mack, Pharmaguy, will continue to tell it like it is until one marketer steps forward with a great campaign.