Monday, June 11, 2012

BI Dumps Celebrity COPD Spokesperson and Seeks Inspired Facebook Fans Instead

Today Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) sent out this tweet: "We have just launched a new #hcsm activity within Facebook....want to find out more? Check out all the details here"

The link leads to "COPD Inspirations - The BIG Picture," a FaceBook page that encourages fans to submit images that reflect "the positive fight against COPD and will inspire others to take back control of their lives. So to get involved 'get creative, get emotive, get artistic!' and upload your image," says BI.

Recently, BI handed over the keys to its public health initiative, Drive4COPD, to the non-profit COPD Foundation (see here). That initiative features racecar driver/celebrity Danica Patrick who is more well-known as a swimsuit model and expletive-deleted competitor (see "Pharma Celebrity Spokespersons: Unrepentant, Secretive, and (Expletive Deleted)!").

BI's new Facebook-based COPD awareness initiative/campaign may signal a trend away from the use of paid celebrities to the exploitation of real patients, who will not receive any compensation whatsoever for the use of their images and stories. BI will, however, offer entrants a chance to win an iPad 2. (Why not a third-generation iPad? Perhaps BI has a surfeit of iPad 2's they need to get rid of.)

Here are the eligibility requirements:
  1. Entrants must be aged 18 or over. 
  2. Entrants cannot be employees of Boehringer Ingelheim (BI), or respective affiliate companies / be an employee of any pharmaceutical company 
  3. Entrants must have a personal connection to COPD – i.e. either have the disease themselves, or be a carer / friend / family member of someone who has or has previously suffered with COPD. 
Oh, I forgot to mention one other criterium for eligibility: you must be a Fan of BI on Facebook. So BI gets new fans and free images for its COPD campaign. Sweet!

Since I was eligible -- my mother-in-law, Irene, has COPD -- I thought I'd submit an entry and see what happens. It was pretty easy. I had a photo of Irene that I think is inspirational (see below):

Along with an image, BI requires entrants to submit an "inspirational" comment, so I wrote: "COPD does not stop my Mom-in-Law, Irene, from enjoying the beautiful world around her, especially when she is with her family. Her daughter, Debbie, took this photo while they hiked in Pine Creek Gorge, commonly referred to as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania."

While I was at it, I also posted the photo to my Facebook page (BI's terms and conditions have no qualms about me using my photo elsewhere). The terms, however, do state: "Each entrant grants a worldwide licence to BI to use the images in any way the companies deem fit (e.g. to feature any or all of the submitted images on their websites and/or in any materials it develops for media, HCPs or patients, with acknowledgement of the entrant. Images will be used by BI to highlight understanding and awareness of COPD. Again, the entrant may be contacted to provide further background to the imagery and will be notified ahead of use)."

The competition opened  today and will close on the 18th July 2012. So, hurry, and enter those photos or other creative images TODAY!


  1. Anonymous5:17 AM

    Dear John,

    First, thank you for raising awareness of the new COPD Inspiration – The Big Picture Competition! We are glad that we have your support and now your entry! The picture is lovely and we wish you good luck. COPD Inspirations –The Big Picture Competition is part of our global effort to increase awareness of COPD. In the US, as you are aware, DRIVE4COPD was transferred to the COPD Foundation, however, Boehringer Ingelheim continues to be a founding sponsor and financial contributor.

    Thank you again for raising awareness and we must say that we wish we had iPad 2s laying around the office as give-aways....but, unfortunately, we do not. The good news is that we now looked into the availability of the new iPad, as it came out much later here in our region and will order a new iPad (third generation) especially for the winner of the competition!

    If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. We have a new social media inquiry email: or you can contact us through Twitter and Facebook!

    Faith at Boehringer Ingelheim

  2. John,
    Not wanting to be biased, being an ex Lilly person, but this campaign of "art & emotions" sounds kind of really really old!
    Lilly has at least a couple up and running for several years:
    Oncology On Canvas ( has been up for 4 years integrating several social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter & YouTube).
    Then there is the Facebook page that has been running for over 2 years on Diabetes by the Italian affiliate with no pre-monitoring since the start ( - risky at the time, and still up and running after the summer scares last year when Fb changed their policies.
    Got to say though that Lilly does not do a good job of promoting these great initiatives that are actually engaging with the patient communities.
    Just my little pinch of salt,

  3. A hard thing about being a celebrity is that people are always nice to you. You're in a conversation and everybody's agreeing with what you're saying - even if you say something totally crazy.


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