If you were looking for award-winning creative in pharma, no one would blame you for looking to common, main-stream conditions like diabetes or OAB. But what if I told you to think oncology? Where would you narrow your focus? Breast cancer? Immunotherapies?
How about carcinoid syndrome? What, you haven’t heard of it? Well you’re not alone, which is why we developed breakthrough campaign creative that hasn’t just surpassed our client’s objective to significantly increase disease awareness, but has also been recognized for creative excellence along the way.
Carcinoid syndrome is a rare disease with symptoms that can include flushing, diarrhea, bloating, stomach pain, and irregular heartbeat. The journey to getting an accurate diagnosis, if ever achieved, is often long and painful, taking an average of five to seven years, with frequent misdiagnoses along the way.
That’s why our campaign is so important. The goal: to reach undiagnosed patients for the first time in an effort to identify the disease earlier on and shorten the time to diagnosis. To do this, we not only had to target the right patients, we needed to reverse their decision to settle for a “normal” life of stomach pain and persistent diarrhea, and inspire action. This alone was no small challenge.
Our core strategy was to identify a way to effectively target patients more likely to be suffering from this rare condition, quickly garner their attention and establish relevance, and then inspire them to take action.
We consulted IBM Watson and similar data sources to retrospectively identify the “typical” path(s) to diagnosis, specifically looking for commonalities and patterns of misdiagnosis. From this, we learned that diarrhea, stomach pain, and bloating were people’s most motivating and easily recognized symptom. This learning would form the basis of our approach to targeting and to signalling relevance.
After also conducting primary research with people suffering from unresolved GI issues, we learned that people often received misdiagnoses of IBS or IBD, leading them to believe that all other explanations had first been considered.
To grab people’s attention while quickly and memorably representing what we learned were their most motivating symptoms—diarrhea, bloating, and GI pain —we created The Wrestler, our Direct to Consumer (DTC) awareness campaign for carcinoid syndrome that casts aside the old pharma marketing playbook.
Using humor and a tiny, trash-talking 1980s-style professional who brings stomach pain and discomfort to life and wreaks havoc at the most inopportune times, the campaign works to disarm the embarrassing topic of GI issues in a new and memorable way. Potential patients were reached using a sophisticated look-a-like model, and both endemic and programmatic media placements, including addressable TV.
Fresh off winning a Cannes Lion and the PM360 Trailblazer Unbranded Campaign of the Year award, leading metrics have all gone beyond the projected numbers and the impact of this campaign is only beginning to be realized, further proving that being a bit unconventional may just be that thing that brings you those unconventional results.