Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Is Your Brand a Digital Genius or a Feeble-Minded Idiot?

When it comes to digital IQ, some brands are geniuses and some are feeble-minded idiots, according to the "L2 Digital IQ Index" for pharmaceutical brands, a first-of-its kind measurement of the digital competence of 51 pharma brands across eight therapeutic categories.

The index was created by think tank L2 in partnership with media agency PHD Network. They evaluated pharmaceutical brands’ digital presence across four criteria: Platform (40 percent, including site effectiveness and brand translation); Off-Platform Messaging (25 percent, covering digital marketing efforts such as online and mobile advertising); Search Engine Optimization (20 percent, based on visibility on top search engines); and Social Media (15 percent, defined by presence on popular 2.0 platforms). Each brand was scored against more than one hundred qualitative and quantitative data points, and assigned a Digital IQ ranking of Genius, Gifted, Average, Challenged or Feeble (see press release).

The top ten brands on the index are (ta da!):
  1. Viagra (Pfizer)
  2. Nexium (AstraZeneca)
  3. Chantix (Pfizer)
  4. Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo (Ortho-McNeil Janssen)
  5. Crestor (AstraZeneca)
  6. Tie between Gardasil (Merck) and Yaz (Bayer)
  7. Tie between Symbicort (AstraZeneca) and NuvaRing (Merck)
  8. Lunesta (Sepracor)
What's interesting is that although AstraZeneca emerged as the industry’s digital powerhouse with four brands in the top ten -- Nexium, Crestor, Symbicort and NuvaRing -- it is somewhat of a "digital idiot savant." Two other AZ drugs -- Tropol-XL and Pulmicort -- have a digital IQ in the feeble-minded idiot zone. This digital IQ disparity among brands within the same company seems standard within the drug industry (see chart below).

Pfizer's Viagra and Chantix are digital geniuses whereas Pristiq and Caduet are feeble-minded digital idiots!

How can that be?

The simplest answer is "brand silos." In an interview yesterday, L2 founder and NYU marketing professor Scott Galloway told me that drug companies are "highly siloed by brand. There's almost no sharing of best practices or competencies within the organization." I hope he's just talking about digital marketing! Which is bad enough.

The longer the bar in the chart above, the more "digitally siloed" is the company. AstraZeneca, it appears is not merely a digital powerhouse, it is also a siloed house!


  1. There is no point to label AstraZeneca as "digital idiot savant" even after producing four out of top ten drugs.

  2. Anonymous7:23 AM

    Interesting, this siloed approach is fueled by pharma company vision that "brand is king", hence each brand does as it pleases.
    Digital Creative/Activation integration is a way to go... unfortunately many have the "he who manages the agency has the power" mindset and have a hard time seeing past this, it seems nobody in Pharma cares about efficiency & effectiveness in marketing comms. We will eventually get there, when our Profit Margins start shrinking or when the shareholders demand it.


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