Pharma Brand Strategy & Campaigns, Switch from Rx to OTC Brands & Humanizing Communications to Doctors by Atin Roy

Atin Roy ,a Senior Creative Director at Ogilvy  talks of unique challenges in marketing and advertising of pharma/health brands. He talks about how to communicate in a regulated environment and how to keep empathy and responsibility in mind when we creating healthcare communications. He talks of award winning campaigns which succeeded in humanising pharma communications amongst doctors. 

Atin talks about interesting developments in health-tech which have been catalysed by Covid19. He talks about how pharma companies can make a switch from Rx to OTC brands, of things to watch-out for while making the transition and how to avoid  debacles like  i-pill.  

Atin talks about talking of case-let of  a client wanting to take one the brands Neurobion Forte from Rx to OTC. Now the challenge was that Indian regulations then (health is a very legally regulated category and for good reasons so) did not allow us to show, say or write nerves in the TVC. Think about it. A nerve health medicine, and you are not allowed to say, write or show nerves. Now what do you do? How in the world will you communicate the product benefit?
The other anecdote  was on the WHO ORS campaign, where the team were planning a TVC. The team decided  to test the story in the UP, Bihar, Rajasthan etc. So instead of an animatics, the brand head and Atin, the copywriter, travelled to these rural centers to literally narrate the story and gauge the TG’s reactions.

The film was about how in Diarrhoea. It showed a doll, as the VO talked about diarrhea and water loss, losing water and wilting. But as he was narrating that story, he witnessed horror dawn on the faces of the women who were listening. All of them were mothers and many barely looked 18. But what in his creative flourish he didn’t realize that while he was narrating the story vividly, the women were visualizing their own child wilting away. And he thinks that was the day, the needle moved in my life when he realized the power of words, and the great responsibility we have as communication creators to keep empathy and responsibility in mind when we creating  healthcare communications. 

Another episode was humanising communications and treating doctors as human beings. The pharma companies believe that doctors are scientific beings who only care about the scientific aspects and show no emotions. However, the fact is that doctors also live in a house like us, watch movies, love Sholay.

The mindset of treating doctors as scientific beings was challenged by Atin  and team when they set out to  started working on Dr Reddy’s acidity relief medicine Razo. Now Razo was the nth molecule of its kind, no real high science to talk of and its prescriptions were falling. Atin and team decided to change the outlook towards doctors and the fact that even doctors enjoy a good joke. 

The task was to communicate efficacy of Razo through cases. Atin and team created two doctor characters Dr Singh & Dr. Pillai (an equivalent would be 5-star Ramesh Suresh but much more sophisticated). They were two friends who in between examining patients in the hospital would discuss Razo cases in a funny tongue and cheek manner. The stories were created as films.