Boehringer showcases patients and their furry friends in new corporate campaign

Boehringer Ingelheim's latest corporate campaign looks to show the synergy of its two main businesses, pharma and animal health. (Boehringer Ingelheim)

Boehringer Ingelheim puts human and animal health under one corporate umbrella, and its new corporate campaign does the same.

The corporate push centers on the special relationships between patients and their animals. In “A Unique Bond,” five real patients share stories of how their pets helped them deal with illness, raised their spirits and provided unconditional love when they needed it most.

In “unifying the two biggest business pillars within BI in one shared storyline,” the campaign is a first for the German drugmaker, said Maximilian Boost, head of digital communications at BI and the campaign lead.

In social media and on a dedicated website, the campaign features real patients with diabetes, cancer, COPD, stroke and scleroderma telling stories about their pets. Helga’s dog Brumbi, for instance, offered unconditional love and “a calmness and serenity” that sustained her while battling breast cancer. Eric’s dogs Peety and Jake helped him lose 150 pounds and regain his health and spirit after he was diagnosed with diabetes. And Anna, who is living with scleroderma, describes how her relationship with her horse Csenge not only raises her spirits, but also improves her physical health, keeping her flexibility in control and improving muscle function.

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“We wanted to put an emphasis on the synergies between the two (business units) and put it in a narrative," Boost explained. "And we wanted the narrative to be the concrete embodiment of how we create value through innovation—the company claim—with the aim of giving our stakeholders, from pet owners to researchers to physicians, a reason to believe in the brand and to show the purpose of the brand, which is that we are there to improve human and animal health."

BI picked up Sanofi’s Merial animal health unit in a 2017 asset swap that sent its consumer health business to Sanofi in return. The deal, which then-Chairman Andreas Barner called “one of the most significant steps in our corporate history," made BI the second-largest animal health business in the world.

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The global campaign's launch in 30 markets was announced last week, but it has been running in a smaller way since mid-January, and it's already garnering positive results. In research looking at consumer perceptions before and after watching “A Unique Bond” videos, only 17% of respondents had a positive view of BI before watching, but a whopping 73% did afterward. Among the 4% of people who viewed BI positively but also self-identified as anti-pharma, the uptick was similar, with 59% viewing BI positively after watching the touching patient stories.

Boost said BI will continue to build on the campaign in the coming months. Next up: a move beyond introducing the two businesses to showing how BI is using digital to improve human and animal health.