Thursday, September 20, 2007

Web 2.0 Pharma Marketing Tricks for Dummies

That's the title of the book I plan to write based on a presentation I gave yesterday to an audience of about 30 people at IIRUSA's "THE Pharmaceutical Marketing Event." See "Web 2.0 Tricks for Pharma Marketers to Be Revealed September 19 in Philadelphia" for more information about this presentation.

As a reminder, I revealed the secret to the perfect execution of the following four tricks:

Trick #1: Google "BAdwords"
Trick #2: Posing as a Consumer on Social Networks
Trick #3: Wikipedia Sleight-of-Hand Edit
Trick #4: YouTube "Consumer-Generated" Video

I've written comments about these tricks in this blog many times. You can search for the relevant posts.

The premise is this: pharmaceutical marketers are dummies/babes in the woods/etc. when it comes to pulling the wool over our eyes using Web 2.0 technologies like blogs, wikis, and discussion forums. They need, therefore, someone like me to explain to them step-by-step how to do these tricks without messing them up and getting caught by the FDA, bloggers like me, or the press.

The truth of the matter is that anyone can perform these tricks in broad virtual daylight and get away with it. There's really nothing "illegal" about it. It's just harmless fun.

Although the audience was small -- about 35 people -- I was a bit nervous because most of them worked for pharmaceutical companies and some for companies that I would be talking about. I should have performed my "shoe" trick to start off and lighten the mood (the trick involves guessing where someone in the audience got their shoes -- want me to guess where you got the shoes your wearing?).

Google "BAdwords"
Let's revisit the Google "BAdwords" Trick, which got the most feedback from the audience yesterday.

I first presented the story behind this trick in the classic posts "The Girl from Google" and "Lunesta, Google, and BAdwords."

Here's the "BAdwords" trick I presented:

What consumers online see (click it to enlarge and read):

This ad, IMHO, is "tricky" for several reasons:
  1. Improper indication: Enbrel is specifically approved for the treatment of “moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis,” which is much more specific than "psoriasis”
  2. Lacks fair balance
  3. No generic name (etanercept); merely a technical violation
The real "trick" is getting away with broadening the approved indication of the drug by implying that it is approved for all forms of psoriasis. The other points are really moot since the FDA has never cited other Google adwords that used these "tricks."

But the ultimate trick is making sure the FDA does not see the tricky version of the ad, but another, more acceptable, version.

What the FDA sees (if it were looking):

This ad is less "tricky" and probably will pass muster with the FDA because:
  1. Proper indication is given
  2. Still Lacks fair balance, but the argument can be made that this ad is part of a larger piece of information (product web site accessible in one click via link) that is NOT separate from the ad (the infamous “one-click rule” attributable to the FDA)
  3. Still has no generic name: But that can be forgiven in a URL
The Secret to Performing This Trick
It is quite easy to add, delete, or edit Google adwords instantly and never leave a trail! Well, there might be a trail, but only Google will have that information and it would probably take a court order to get it.

All you -- or any low-paid summer intern that you hire -- have to do is create 2 groups of adwords: one that is "violative" (ie, the trick ad) and one that is not. If your trick ad is outed by a blogger or reported to the FDA, instantly switch to the legit adword group! No one, least of all FDA, will be the wiser!

This trick requires some attention, but as I said, any summer intern can handle it! It's CHEAP TOO!

Why be a "Mister Nice Guy" when you can be a "Mean Hombre?" Learn the secrets to the perfect execution of these Web 2.0 tricks, which will be revealed in an article in the upcoming September issue of Pharma Marketing News

You can get this issue by subscribing. It's simple, just click here to subscribe. The FREE subscription is made possible by email ads.

You can also buy the reprint after publication here.


  1. Taking a simple screenshot will preserve the evidence for badword marketing.

  2. Having evidence and getting the FDA to anything about it are two different things. You need both to catch the "BAdword" trickster!

  3. Are the ads you show ads for products, or really just ads for websites? It seems like the call to action is to go to a website, not to go ask your physician.

  4. Industry experts already contend that DTC ads do not induce people to ask their physician about advertised drugs.

    Ads are really to put the name and indication in the public's mind and are not very good at motivating people to do something until the situation arises.

    Do the the Rozerem outdoor ads ask people to visit their physician? The URL text is so tiny, nobody notices and the ad's purpose cannot be to promote the Web site. Is it not and ad?

    "BAdwords" are like reminder billboard ads. Sure, it would be great if people click on them and go to the web site, but it's still an ad.

  5. Anonymous10:39 AM

    A screenshot alone would not be enough evidence. (Have you ever heard of photoshop?)

  6. It's really a moot point. I sent Lunesta BAdword screen shots to FDA over a year ago and haven't heard a peep from them!

  7. Anonymous2:23 PM

    Nice job on keeping racist stereotypes alive. You're a jerk.

  8. Anonymous1:09 PM

    If the "racist" commenter meant the Cowboy and Hombre image is racist, this person has to lighten up.

    Where did it say all Mexicans are Mean Hombres? There are Mean Hombres in the world, you know. These are images from movies. Why not go after the movies? They stereotype all the time.

    Relax a bit, OK?


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