Any marketers out there ever feel like non-business folk’s knee-jerk contempt for your profession rivals that of ambulance-chasing attorneys?*
This prejudice, although generic, is understandable. And, by the way, show me an attorney who defends her trade as much as her clients and I’ll show you the reason lawyer jokes were invented.
So, here’s an idea: don’t market vanity products that result in “oily discharge.” It’s just not a good long-term strategy. (If you’re already offended, you probably shouldn’t read this Wired post about the new diet pill “alli.” And, whatever you do, don’t read this funny-yet-profane rant about the drug’s marketing spin, which I found at the very top of Reddit.com yesterday. How’s that for word-of-mouth?)
As you can see, saying “it’s not for everybody” doesn’t suffice–especially when “not for everybody” really means “. . . it’s probably a smart idea to wear dark pants, and bring a change of clothes with you to work.” Oops!
Far beyond the fact that the FDA approved Alli (aka “Orlistat“) for over-the-counter use–thanks, drug lobbyists–isn’t it a drug maker’s responsibility to make it perfectly clear that treatments like this are extreme?
Sure, the big drug companies are an easier target than even the marketers and attorneys who enable them. But, without them, there’s no innovation. And for every Vioxx lawsuit, there’s a story about a new drug that saves lives. For instance, compare GlaxoSmithKline’s advertisement for Alli with this honest commercial for Merck’s HPV-preventing cervical cancer drug (thanks to DDB).
David Ogilvy wrote Confessions of an Advertising Man back in 1963, and what offends me–not quite as much as those who think “oily discharge” is fair trade for weight-loss–is when I realize an ad exec hasn’t bothered to read Ogilvy. It’s a conversation-killer. As a salesman, marketer, copywriter, entrepreneur and advertiser, the man came from nothing to master his craft. The least you can do is buy his book.
Consider these last few points from the Confessions… chapter on drug marketing:
Advertising drugs is a special art. Here, started with the dogmatism of brevity, are the principles I recommend to those who practice this art:
. . . (4) A good patent-medicine advertisement conveys a feeling of authority. There is a doctor-patient relationship inherent in medicine copy, not merely a seller-buyer relationship.
(5) The advertisement should not merely extol the merits of your product; it should also explain the disease. The sufferer should feel that he has learned something about his condition.
(6) Do not strain credulity. A person in pain wants to believe that you can help him. His will to believe is an active ingredient in the efficacy of the product.
(*Sorry attorneys, but at least you get high-profile dramas. We get low-budget sitcoms, at best.)