The selfie craze isn’t going anywhere anytime soon—and in the meantime, expect pharma to keep using the trend to its advantage in 2018.
In 2017, multiple drugmakers worked to tap into selfie culture and weave it into their own marketing. And with good reason: Selfies and social media posts go hand in hand, making for a quick way to extend the reach of a campaign.
Just take it from Allergan, which asked people to tweet eye selfies as part of not one but two of its 2017 awareness efforts. It first rolled out the idea as part of it “Eyepowerment” push, meant to spur conversations about dry eye between patients and their doctors. During February’s Academy Awards show, it partnered with celebrities—including actress and TV host Melissa Rivers and reality TV star Bethenny Frankel—to encourage followers to tweet photos of their eyes along with the hashtag #Eyepowerment, and the company pledged a $10 donation to a women’s empowerment for each selfie shared.
Later in the year, the Dublin drugmaker took a similar tack, bringing on star power to urge selfie sharing around its preventable blindness initiative, “See America.” In a video spot featured on the campaign’s website, Gilmore Girls and This is Us star Milo Ventimiglia urged viewers to post eye selfies on their social channels and mark them with #EYEPIC. For every post, “See America” donated $10 to the American Foundation for the Blind, a national nonprofit.
But Allergan wasn’t the only pharma company on 2017’s selfie bandwagon. Later in the year, Novartis recruited actress Eva Longoria, of Desperate Housewives fame, as a celebrity partner for “Kiss This 4 MBC,” an initiative that encouraged the public to “take action” against metastatic breast cancer by posting a Boomerang or selfie on social media that “tells metastatic breast cancer to Kiss This!’”
Of course, there are other ways for drugmakers to use selfies to boost sales that don’t involve social media efforts—and Cutanea Life Science knows it. Instead, it harnessed the power of the selfie to step up adherence to its first product, acne treatment Aktipak, and help it stand out from the competition. The selfie camera function Cutanea worked into its companion app visually charts patients’ acne progress.
“The target demographic for us are the same people who are constantly on their phones. Today’s teenagers and young adults are constantly on the go, and they’re into technology,” Cutanea Brand Manager Bob Bitterman Jr. said in an interview this summer. “The app provides an appealing way to help tech-savvy patients use the medication as dosed and as directed by their physician.”
How pharma builds on its selfie usage next year remains to be seen, but one thing’s for sure: New technology is making it easier than ever for people to take their own portraits and get involved. Selfie-stick replacing drone, anyone?