Emily Faherty
Cannes 2017
A Diagnosis For the Pharma Industry

If you want to know what’s going on in pharma, Pfizer is a good one-stop source.

Throughout the first day of the Heath Lions at Cannes Lions 2017, one of the common themes was that pharma is in a tricky place right now. Its less-than-stellar reputation united even the 2016 US Presidential Candidates—a pretty special accomplishment.

In their session on Saturday, Pfizer—represented by VP of Corporate Affairs Ed Harnaga and Sr. Director of Reputation Communications Dana Gansman—laid out what’s wrong with the industry, and some suggestions on how it can move forward.

Big Pharma Is In Big Trouble

Research shows 75 percent of people say the pharma industry cares more about making money than helping people. Even in the recent U.S. election, the only thing candidates could agree upon was that big pharma is “getting away with murder.”

Pfizer Saw the Need to Fight Back

Pharma is an industry based in innovation, but that’s not where the focus is. Pfizer decided to own its problem and engage around it to show how medicine represents the hope for a better, happier, healthier life.

Can You Always Find Truth in Data?

Not necessarily. Data can tell lots of great stories—that 56.6M people are protected by vaccines or that 28.3M households alleviate pain with Advil—but at the end of the day, these numbers are still cold and still don’t solve problems.

The Need to Dig Deeper

People want a brand to have a soul and make it easy to see the good they are doing. Pfizer needed to show people its mission to advance human health and transform lives. More research revealed that while people don’t like pharma, they love science and see it as the most positive and heroic part of pharma.

How the Right Approach Can Change Perception

Creating “Driven to Discover the Cure” was Pfizer’s answer, showing the emotional side of the industry and putting a face on the company. Its “Before It Became a Medicine” ad campaign highlights the real scientists that take the product from ideas, inspirations, and wild ideas to life saving medicine. It created more than 900M engagements on social media and effectively saw a change in perception—with a 47 percent change, now viewing Pfizer as honest and trustworthy.

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