Welcome to the first annual FiercePharma Marketing Awards. It’s been a long strange trip, as the saying goes, through the past decade of pharma marketing, and we’ve been intrigued observers all along the way as the field has grown and evolved.
When FiercePharma decided to publish a marketing-focused edition more than four years ago, the pharma ad landscape was still dominated by blockbuster TV drug ads. Social media was mostly an intimidating no man’s land.
Jump forward to today when pharma digital budgets are skyrocketing: A recent WARC study pegged online advertising—including search, social and online video—in health and pharma to jump 14% next year. By contrast, TV advertising, although still a stalwart ad venue for pharma, will remain flat with just 0.8% growth.
Budgets aren't the only thing on the rise, either. So is marketing savvy. Once considered neophytes in the hip and happening ad scene, pharma companies—some of them, at least—are breaking out with smart creative executions, innovative tools and tech-assisted novelties that go beyond standard pharma advertising fare.
That’s evident in our first crop of award winners. Among their ranks you'll find an app that turns a mobile phone into an art-creating device that also tests for COPD. Another winner used chart-topping rap music to breathe new life into an old brand, while still another turned street scenes into outdoor eye exams to help flag vision problems.
Our who's who panel of judges comprises some of the most innovative thinkers—and biggest award winners—in health advertising today: Megan Rokosh at Havas Health & You, Sam Cannizzaro at Syneos Health, Matt Eastwood at McCann Health, Ellen Gorczyca at Klick, Beth Elkis at Ogilvy Health, Kathy Delaney at Publicis Health/Saatchi Wellness, Kathleen Nanda at FCB Health and Chris Rudnick at TBWA\WorldHealth.
The judges reviewed entries across seven different categories to choose the winners we highlight here. They did not evaluate any work submitted by their own agencies or agency networks.
Eastwood said the award finalists represent some of the best and most innovative work in the industry and that "recognizing great work always helps elevate and encourage the entire industry.”
But he did have a call to action for pharma marketers. "If there was one area where I’d love to see us, as an industry, push ourselves even harder it would be in social media," Eastwood said. "While there was some great thinking, I believe the opportunities to create truly game-changing work are still out there."
We'll be watching as the game continues to change—and we'll be back next year for another round.