Professional: 'The Real Inhalers'

FCB Health Real Inhalers campaign for BI
The unbranded "Real Inhalers" campaign highlights one problem COPD patients can have with inhalers, namely taking a breath deep enough to get a full dose of the medicine. (FCB Health)

Category: Professional
Winning campaign: "The Real Inhalers"
Client: Boehringer Ingelheim
Agency: FCB Health New York

COPD patients are frustrated with their inhaling devices. But doctors didn’t necessarily know that—until this award-winning campaign in the professional category came along.

Boehringer Ingelheim and FCB Health New York got doctors to look beyond the plastic and buttons to see the patients using the devices. And they are, as the name of the campaign suggests, "The Real Inhalers."

The unbranded campaign highlights one problem COPD patients can have with inhalers, namely taking a breath deep enough to get a full dose of the medicine. That’s not only counterintuitive but also a paradox that affects doctors’ ability to help their patients.

“‘Real Inhalers’ was born from the needs, and from the mouths, of actual COPD patients. Time and again, we heard how they struggled not only from their condition but also from the devices,” said Mike Devlin, executive VP, group creative director at FCB Health New York. “The very inhalers meant to help them were often a struggle. [Healthcare providers] did not yet know how much inhaler choice mattered to delivering the medicine they were prescribing.”

So the team put patients in a box. Literally. Using 3D imaging and printing, they captured the likenesses of real COPD patients Jim, Mary and Jason. Each 3D replica of a real person was enclosed in a traditional-looking inhaler package with only these words on the outside: “Suboptimal Inhaler Included.”

The boxes helped sales reps open conversations with physicians and “challenge them respectfully,” Devlin said. They were a surprising, thought-provoking tool that reset the discussion and opened the door to talk about BI’s Stiolto Respimat, he added. Rather than requiring an inhale, Respimat dispenses a slow-moving aerosol mist of medication.

After one month in market, physician perceptions had changed: 9% more doctors said the Respimat inhaler would deliver the prescribed dose regardless of a patient’s ability to inhale. More doctors saw the Respimat inhaler as easier for older patients to handle, and more believed using Respimat would make patients more likely to stick to their dosing every day; both measures increased by 8%.

“'Real Inhalers' confronts real challenges, unseen struggles, unmet patient needs, and empowers physicians to discuss and embrace new insights and data. And in the end help patients who struggle mightily, in need of smarter solutions,” Devlin said. “What could be better than that?”

Professional: 'The Real Inhalers'

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