A friend of mine on Facebook posted a political meme that has been proven to include inaccuracies, and underneath her post appeared a “related article” with a tag noting that this article had been fact-checked and the content of the article basically cleared up all the issues with the nearby meme. Being a new feature, at least for me (Facebook sometimes rolls out features at different times for different people), there was a bubble caption to explain what I was seeing for the first time. This is what it looked like;
And when I clicked on ‘fact-checker’, here is the explanation that Facebook gave on how Facebook third-party fact-checkers get selected:
Based on the upcoming American election and the ongoing issues with inaccuracies with certain media outlets, my guess is that fact-checkers will be mandated to focus on political articles. This is purely a hunch, but it seems like a good starting point. We should all be made aware of what is the truth and what are inaccuracies from a political perspective.
But this got me thinking; wouldn’t it be amazing if there would also be medical fact-checkers letting people know which articles are posting accurate information versus those who aren’t. Remember that meme that used to suggest to people that they should put flour on their burns? Yikes! And then real healthcare professionals were telling people not to do that because it could make matters worse. There are so many other similar examples. If there was a Fact-Checker for that type of information, it could save people from an unfortunate situation becoming even worse. But healthcare and pharmaceuticals can be super complex issues. The information must be accurate and balanced in order to not mislead people. Not an easy task, but if we take it one bite-size at a time, and correct the popular memes, that would be we worth the effort as it would save some people from unfortunate incidents.
Whether you have ever tried to lose weight or not, most of us realize that there are peak times when people get motivated to take on the challenge. And here we are in January, the time when approximately 1/3 of Canadians resolve to work on their fitness levels and nutrition (Source: Statista, Leading New Year’s Resolutions according to Canadians in 2017).
Novo Nordisk Canada understands the mindset of their target audience for Saxenda®, a weight loss prescription medication, and they play to it very well through their evolving Saxenda® social media campaign. Below you will see how the Saxenda social media campaign started and how it evolved throughout the past 8 months.
May 2018: Laying down the foundation
Novo Nordisk Canada sponsored Facebook ads promoting the fact that obesity was now considered a chronic illness by several medical organizations. I only have screenshots of the French ads. This was a great starting point to lay down the foundation for their upcoming campaigns for both of their prescription weight loss products, Ozempic® and Saxenda® .
June 2018: Saxenda® Choose Change campaign
The Saxenda Choose Change campaign was launched on Facebook in June 2018. Novo Nordisk Canada was sponsoring several Facebook ads which were obviously targeted to healthcare professionals, with a call-to-action asking the healthcare professional to watch their 59-second video. The objective was to get healthcare professionals to start a discussion about obesity with the appropriate patients, with a message that obesity is a disease and is treatable.
The SaxendaChoose Change campaign was also targeted to overweight Canadians in a wide variety of Facebook ads, in both English and French. The ads were designed to increase awareness of Saxendaand encourage interested Canadians to speak with their primary care physician about it. With the frequent mentions of a resolution update, it appears that Novo Nordisk Canada was targeting patients who had tried to lose weight before but were unsuccessful. It appears that the Saxenda Choose Change campaign was meant to re-inspire these patients.
The Saxenda Facebook ads directed Canadians to www.Saxenda.ca where they can learn more about how to speak with their doctor about Saxenda and obtain a discount for their first box of Saxenda.
September 2018: Back to Saxenda® campaign
Other than January, September seems to be a symbolic time for new beginnings for many people since it is the beginning of a new school year, and Novo Nordisk Canada spun that into their Saxenda campaign with a play-on-words focused on back-to-school; Back to Saxenda and First day of Saxenda. They also maintained their Choose Change slogan for a few of their Facebook ads. As you can see, their ads continued to target overweight men as well as overweight women.
December 2018: Now is the new later campaign
Fully aware that many people wait for January to take a resolution to lose weight, Novo Nordisk Canada sponsored Facebook ads to motivate overweight Canadians to take action now and not wait until January. As marketers, we know how that last little push at year-end just might make the difference for a brand to reach its sales objectives for the year.
Late December 2018: Countdown to new year resolution
And my personal favorite part of this campaign evolution so far was when Novo Nordisk Canada sponsored Facebook ads for a 3-day countdown to the new year. A pharmaceutical company can have a bit of fun with its community just like a consumer company! Understandably, some brands do not have that luxury because of the type of disease that they are associated with, but for certain brands like weight loss prescription products, it works beautifully.
January 2019: The Saxenda® resolution campaign
Novo Nordisk Canada is again playing on people’s need for a fresh start by encouraging overweight Canadians to make a new year’s resolution to talk to their doctor about Saxenda.
Playing by the rules: Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) pharmaceutical advertising
Throughout the evolution of the Saxenda social media campaign, Novo Nordisk Canada played by the direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising guidelines which state that you can only refer to the product name, price or quantity. You will notice that the ads targeted to patients mention the brand name Saxenda, but they do not mention any indication related to weight loss. In the ads targeted to healthcare professionals, they have to be careful because even though these ads are not intended for patients, it is possible for a consumer to see it so they must be treated as a direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising ad. And they are! The ads either mention obesity or they mention the brand name Saxenda, but never both in the same ad.
Where to follow Novo Nordisk Canada:
You can find the Novo Nordisk Canada Facebook page here, although it is not used to communicate with the online community. Its main purpose is just to be the anchor page for Facebook ads, which has been a requirement of Facebook for the past year or so. However, their Twitter account posts more regularly, and you can find them on Twitter here.
Novo Nordisk Canada partnered with Media Platforms for their Saxenda® campaigns.
Saxenda® ads shown in this blog post are all owned by Novo Nordisk Canada.
Let us know what your thoughts are on the evolution of the Saxenda social media campaign in the comments below.
A Canadian pharmaceutical company based in Ontario launched their Pain Relief brand in 2016. There are 3 products within the band. They caught my eye with their fun Christmas giveaway contest on Facebook, which has the objective to raise awareness of the brand and educate on the differences between their three products. As part of their 24-days of Christmas Giveaways campaign, the company is giving away a free product every day for the first 24 days of December, to one of the people who responded correctly.
If you are considering running a contest on Facebook, please ensure that you are well aware of the rules and regulations first:
Running a Facebook Contest According to the Guidelines
The Facebook contest guidelines change from time to time, so be sure to check them before you set up your own contest. As of December 2018, the Facebook contest guidelines are as follows (copied and pasted word-for-word);
Communicating a Promotion
If you use Facebook to communicate or administer a promotion (ex: a contest or sweepstakes), you are responsible for the lawful operation of that promotion, including:
The official rules;
Offer terms and eligibility requirements (ex: age and residency restrictions); and
Compliance with applicable rules and regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered (ex: registration and obtaining necessary regulatory approvals).
Promotions on Facebook must include the following:
A complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant; and
Acknowledgement that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by or associated with Facebook.
Administration of a Promotion
Promotions may be administered on Pages, Groups, Events, or within apps on Facebook. Personal Timelines and friend connections must not be used to administer promotions (ex: “share on your Timeline to enter” or “share on your friend’s Timeline to get additional entries”, and “tag your friends in this post to enter” are not permitted).
Facebook will not assist you in the administration of your promotion, and you agree that if you use our service to administer your promotion, you do so at your own risk.
Considerations to stay within Facebook contest guidelines:
Facebook changes its terms quite frequently, so if you are planning on running a contest on Facebook, make sure that you know and understand their most up-to-date regulations.
Here are a few tips to ensure that you stay within the Facebook contest guidelines:
– To be absolutely safe, run it on your website but promote it on Facebook and other social platforms. It will drive traffic to your website at the same time.
– Include a statement that your contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered or associated with Facebook
– Clearly state that no purchase is necessary
– Somebody may choose to share your post, but you cannot force them to share as a criteria to win
– You cannot force somebody to like your page as a criteria to win
– You cannot force somebody to tag another person as a criteria to win
Granted, we rarely hear of a page that gets punitive action by Facebook for not abiding by the regulations, but it’s not unheard of. Pages have even been shut down as a result.
I’m not trying to dissuade people from running contests on Facebook. Not at all! I have set up multiple contests for clients, usually using the Woobox app and I have seen their benefits. However, don’t risk punitive actions on your Facebook page by Facebook because of something that you could have easily corrected in your Facebook contest to make it within the Facebook guidelines.
There are ways to ensure that you have a successful Facebook contest while staying within the guidelines. Think about it – are you ready to risk having your page shut down and losing all those followers which you probably worked very hard to get in the first place? I didn’t think so.
Note: Brand / Company mentioned in this post are not clients.
Let us know if you have run a Facebook contest before and if so, was it difficult to remain within the Facebook contest guidelines?
Despite all the glitches and privacy issues that seem to continuously pop up for Facebook, the social media giant still manages to maintain their page view share in Canada. This week (December 14 2018), they announced another privacy scandal which might affect 6.8 million Facebook users. The issue is that photos that were considered private, such as photos in Facebook stories, may have leaked out to about 1,500 apps. Hmmm, what will the following chart look like in a few months from now? I predict that it will stay the course. Although this is a big issue, we have not been told yet how many of the affected Facebook users were Canadian. Since the big dip in page views that occurred after the Cambridge Analytica fiasco, there have been several security breaches for Facebook users over the past few months yet the Canadian statistics for the page viewership on Facebook has remained largely unchanged.
The CCPE used to be so quiet online and on social media, but they seem to be coming out with a roar on Facebook these days! Way to go CCPE !!!! Your increased presence on Facebook is definitely noticeable!
It looks like the CCPE has recently (as spotted in December 2018) taken their Facebook presence one step further as they have multiple ads on Facebook targeting people who want a competitive advantage in the pharmaceutical market. Their positioning and targeted audience are very clear from their ads. The CCPE clearly wants to be recognized as the educational organization that can help boost one’s career within the pharmaceutical industry, whether one is trying to break into the industry or needs a competitive edge to stand out amongst their peers when it comes to career advancements. Take a look at the screenshots of their most recent Facebook ads;
I don’t know if the CCPE is advertising on other social platforms, but I think that Facebook is definitely a good spot to be advertising because those with or those hoping for a pharmaceutical career are like the general population – they are on Facebook. Despite all of Facebook’s recent chaos and woes, it is still the number 1 social media platform for Canadians as can be seen by its page view share of 55.98% (Statcounter, Canadian social media statistics, November 2016 to November 2018).
Kudos to CCPE for taking this plunge in Facebook advertising. When we think of reaching out to pharmaceutical professionals, we think of LinkedIn, but I think we often overlook Facebook because it is where Canadians go to the most when it comes to social media. And even though the targeted audience is probably on Facebook for personal reasons, their professional career hat is not far away, so the ads should be effective in reaching the appropriate audience. I look forward to seeing if it pays off for CCPE in the future.
Do you think more companies should be reaching out to pharmaceutical employees via Facebook ads? Let us know in the comments.
Social Media Marketing Society posted on its closed Facebook group that Facebook is rolling out a new feature that will allow Facebook Group admins to anonymously remove a member’s post and give a reason why the post was removed. Pretty cool, huh!
Note that this is for Facebook GROUPS, not Facebook pages.
This could be a handy little tool for pharmaceutical or healthcare marketers who have regulatory guidelines to abide by. Of course, all Facebook groups should have engagement rules that are prominently visible to their members, but sometimes, people either don’t read them, don’t remember them or simply don’t care for them.
If somebody makes a first offence such as mentioning a product name and disease state in the same post (which is a big no-no in Canada since the post may be seen by consumers), the admin could remove the post and politely inform the member that the post was removed in order to follow regulatory guidelines, with a reminder and link to review the group’s policy. If the offence is more serious or comes from a repeat offender, depending on the group’s tolerance policy, the admin may decide to give this person a chance and a warning if they wish to remain part of the group. It goes without saying that this person would also receive the reminder and link to the group’s engagement policy.
I have checked my Facebook groups, but none of them have this feature yet. Oh Facebook – always slowly rolling out new features and teasing those who don’t have early access! Here’s a sneak peak at the pics that were posted by the Social Media Marketing Society.
Do you think this will be a handy tool for you and your organization?
A few months ago, I spotted a Canadian pharmaceutical ad on Linked for the prescription product Ozempic®. You can see my blog post about it here. This was intriguing to me because it’s not every day that you see a prescription product promoted on LinkedIn, especially considering our Canadian regulations about direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising where you can only mention product name, quantity, and price. But although this is technically considered a DTC ad since consumers are not blocked from seeing it and as such must follow Canadian DTC regulations, it is actually an ad targeting healthcare professionals. Similar ads are currently ongoing on the Novo Nordisk Facebook page. Note that Novo Nordisk does not post on their Facebook page, therefore it is probably just used as an anchor for their Facebook ads.
I asked Jeff Aikman, the Ozempic® Marketing Manager, for some feedback on the success of the Ozempic® social media advertising campaign. Here is his response:
Despite advancements in the diabetes treatment landscape, many people with type 2 diabetes still struggle to reach their hemoglobin A1C (HbA1c) or blood glucose targets. Generally, clinical guidelines recommend an A1C goal of 7 per cent for most people.1
Healthcare professionals play a major role in helping patients and their caregivers understand their diagnosis and available treatment options. Helping patients understand the importance of the care plan for diabetes, and engaging them in the decision-making process strengthens the partnership between healthcare professionals and people living with diabetes. It can also promote a person’s understanding of, and adherence to, the treatment plan.2
Like all new products introduced into a market, it is important to build top of mind awareness, name recognition, and intrigue. When advertising online, the ads need to have a destination to click through if the viewer is interested in learning more. In pharmaceutical advertising, the ads can only reference name, price, and quantity. Since these ads were targeted at HCPs using HCP language, the destination microsite must be gate protected and for HCPs only. We partnered with Media Platforms, an innovative healthcare advertising agency that specializes in reaching Healthcare Professionals and patients digitally, at a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising. At the launch of Ozempic® in Canada, we provided all HCPS with an opportunity to learn more about our newest Glucagon-like Peptide-1 (GLP-1) Receptor Agonist, Ozempic®, through an innovative online program. The program was designed to reach HCPs treating patients living with diabetes who were also looking to help their patients achieve their A1C goals. The digital advertising space provides us with a great platform to share compliant advertisements with HCPs quickly and effectively giving them the option to click through and receive more information.
The overall success of this program is still to be determined as it is ongoing, but we have seen some significant engagement with the content and direct follow up from physicians looking for more information. We are monitoring overall impressions, click through rates from the ads, and entrances through the gated site. Inside, HCPs can learn more about the medication and ask a question directly to our Medical Information team. Advertising through digital channels is an excellent cost effective way to get your name out there, providing HCPs the option to click through and learn more about the Canadian indication.
Note: Novo Nordisk is not a client. I have not received any incentive to write this blog post.
What is the Astellas C3 Prize; Changing Cancer Care challenge?
Astellas is holding its 3rd global contest called the C3 Prize; Changing Cancer Care. Their objective is to provide funding to somebody or to a group with an innovative non-treatment idea intended to improve the lives of cancer patients, caregivers, and their loved ones, especially in low- and middle-income countries.
The winners will receive grants and access to resources to make their life-changing ideas a reality.
This is such a fantastic idea! A win-win for patients and for the innovator! And yes, Astellas is gaining visibility as a results, and that’s perfectly fine. Many consumer products run similar programs (ie. think pink ribbon for breast cancer), and it’s OK for them to gain awareness as a result as well.
Astellas promotion of C3 Prize Challenge on Facebook:
Astellas is sponsoring Facebook ads to promote their C3 Prize challenge to a long list of countries. We can tell this now because Facebook recently changed the way that we can view ads of a particular Facebook page. You can now see which country the ad is being targeted to. The image below shows only a small fraction of the countries where the Astellas Facebook page is promoting the C3 Prize ads.
Here are the C3 Prize ads that one can find on the Astellas Facebook page (confirmed from July 10th to 15th). There is a mixture of still images and videos, and all have the button “Apply now”;
Unfortunately, these sponsored Facebook posts have not done as well as most of the other posts by Astellas from May 14 to July 14 2018, in terms of engagement (Source: Social Insider). This was probably expected though for the following reason. Astellas posts a lot of interesting information on their Facebook page. Their posts which are targeted to a larger, mainstream audience get more shares and more likes. It is difficult for posts, such as the C3 Prize challenge, which are targeted to a much narrower audience, to compete with the mainstream posts. With the C3 Prize challenge posts, Astellas is reaching out to a very narrow group of healthcare entrepreneurs who are looking to get their innovative cancer care idea off the ground. There are only a handful of those people around on Facebook.
Astellas promotion of C3 Prize Challenge on LinkedIn:
Despite the challenge in reaching entrepreneurs on Facebook, there is no shortage of business-minded, motivated entrepreneurs on LinkedIn. As such, it is not surprising to see that the Astellas C3 Prize challenge posts on Linked are resulting in substantial engagement.
Astellas promotion of C3 Prize Challenge on Twitter:
Several months ago, Twitter announced that we would be able to access a hub of some kind to find ads by particular accounts, but that has not happened yet. As such, I am unable to tell whether Astellas is sponsoring advertisements on Twitter or not. However, there are quite a few posts using the #C3Prize hashtag. Here are a couple of examples below.
Astellas #C3Prize Twitter chat statistics:
Astellas held a Twitter chat on July 12th, at 2pm E.S.T. This is a great way to create a live conversation between stakeholders to create more awareness and generate buzz around a particular hashtag.
Astellas cleverly created an image to attach to some of its first Twitter post during the Twitter chat itself, as it outlined the process and guidelines of the chat. They made certain that chat participants would know that their ideas were not going to be evaluated during the chat and that anybody seeking information about medical treatments should discuss with their physician.
Here are some data a little over 24 hours AFTER the Twitter chat:
As would be expected, there was a large increase in the usage of the #C3Prize hashtag during the Twitter chat, and the usage of the hashtag almost immediately went back to base level afterwards.
The majority of the hashtag users were male both before and after the Twitter chat.
Almost half of the tweets posted with the #C3Prize hashtag were initiated on desktop, with the rest on some kind of mobile app. This means that Astellas needs to prepare digital content that will be well viewed on both desktop and mobile devices.
Approximately 2/3 of the posts with the #C3Prize hashtag were retweets of other posts that contained the hashtag. Almost 1/3 of the posts were original posts. Original posts during a Twitter chat are key because these are the ones that will generate replies and retweets.
More than half of the tweets with the #C3Prize hashtag were positive in nature, and only around 10% were negative. The overall sentiment score is calculated based on positive ad negative data. One must be careful when looking at the negative data because it only takes one negative word in a tweet to label that tweet negative. For example, one tweet during the chat had the word “unhealthy”, but the content of the tweet was not negative at all. It was part of the discussion which was about cancer in less fortunate areas. Nonetheless, it is quite possible that the Keyhole algorithm just read that one word and then labeled it as a negative tweet as a result.
Here is some complimentary data about the Twitter chat from Socialert:
The majority of the tweets with the #C3Prize hashtag came from the US with a few countries, including Canada, showing up as secondary users.
The profile keywords give you an idea of the type of people who used the #C3Prize hashtag, as these are words that appear in the participants’ Twitter profile. Seeing the words “cancer”, “health”, “care” and “palliative” indicate that many of the participants describe themselves or their job with these words, therefore are vested in healthcare and may be influencers.
The top 3 hashtags used during and slightly after the Astellas #C3Prize Twitter chat were #C3Prize (naturally!!), #CancerCare and #Cancer.
The hashtag #CancerCare was also used by Astellas in their tweets about the C3 Prize. The #CancerCare hashtag appears to be more commonly used. Astellas must be pleased that their company name was one of the most prominent keywords in tweets containing the hashtag #CancerCare over the past 10 days (source Keyhole, July 4 to July 14 2018).
Based on this review, it seems as though the #C3Prize Twitter chat was fairly successful. Although the hashtag didn’t trend, one has to remember that this was not meant to be a mainstream Twitter chat. This was a Twitter chat targeted to a handful of people who are entrepreneurs in the healthcare field, and who are searching for funding to make their innovative idea come to fruition.
We can learn from Astellas about using social media to promote a challenge:
Your target audience for the challenge will determine your success on various social media platforms. Entrepreneurs can be found more easily on LinkedIn compared to Facebook and Twitter.
A Twitter chat which includes a few influential participants can generate a fair amount of noise during a peak period.
Setting up clear Twitter chat guidelines and promoting them ahead of the chat can reduce confusion.
Combining your customized hashtag with an associated, more commonly used hashtag to generate greater awareness to a larger audience.
Good luck to all the #C3Prize participants and best wishes to Astellas in choosing their winners amongst all the innovative ideas that they will certainly receive.
At the bottom of this post, you will find screenshots of 44 page Facebook covers from either global pharmaceutical organizations or pharma companies in Canada. The screenshots were taken in June 2018, and a few of them have already been updated as of early July 2018. The pharmaceutical Facebook covers are in alphabetical order of the pharma company’s name.
Pharmaceutical companies on Facebook
Pharma companies are increasingly communicating and sharing on social media, including Facebook. Although there are some Canadian pharmaceutical subsidiaries that manage their own social media profiles, the majority still rely on their global headquarters to do the communications.
Most of the pharmaceutical Facebook pages that I have seen focus either on non-branded corporate activities, careers within the organization, news about their research or events that are hosted by either themselves or a related medical association.
Pharmaceutical Facebook Page Covers
Pharmaceutical companies on Facebook have the opportunity to visually highlight their page’s objective with their Facebook cover image, slide show or video. They can also change their Facebook cover page image anytime.
The majority of the pharmaceutical Facebook covers that I found consist of still images, with a couple showcasing videos, a .gif file, or a slideshow. Their call-to-action buttons vary from ‘Learn more’, ‘Watch video’, ‘Contact us’, ‘Call us’, to ‘Sign up’.
Many of these pharma Facebook page covers depict happy people while others show happy or serious scientific researchers. They are well done and pleasing to the eye, but they really don’t differentiate themselves from one another.
Pharmaceutical Facebook Page Covers That Stand Out
A few of the covers are innovative and self-explanatory such as the Allergan eye image, the Abbvie ‘gives back’ images, and the Novo Nordisk‘s compilation of old photos including that of an old insulin bottle to celebrate their 95th year in diabetes research. The cover by Pfizer global is a video which captures one’s attention as it presents its employees as regular people with personal lives and then show them dedicated to a common goal as Pfizer colleagues.
Most of the pharma Facebook covers don’t have any messages on them, but a few highlight their specialty, making it absolutely clear what they are all about, in particular the Leo Pharma, Novartis Cancer and Novo Nordisk covers.
The 1st image of the Abbott Facebook page cover was taken in June 2018 whereas the 2nd image was taken in early July 2018. An image of the July 2018 Abbott Facebook page cover taken from a mobile device is also included to show you how the covers look differently depending on the platform that the visitor is using.
Below is what the Abbott Facebook page cover looks like on a mobile device. Notice that the image size on mobile is not in the same ratio as it is on desktop. You tend to lose a bit of the left side of the image on mobile, so whenever possible, give more weight to the right side of your image and leave a little space on the left so that you don’t lose part of your image or text as Abbott did on mobile.
This is an interesting situation. The Apotex Facebook page was created on June 16, 2015. Posts were published on this page until July 2, 2015. Usually, I would assume that the page was started by a person or group that wants to discuss Apotex or its brand. This happens all the time and it is usually by people who are quite passionate about their stance on the company or brand, either positive or negative. However, if you look at some of the posts on the Apotex Facebook page, they appear to come from either the corporation itself or a representing agency. Consumers do not typically write posts in this manner.
Obviously, the page has been abandoned. If Apotex did have anything to do with this page, they may want to consider making it invisible to the public or deleting it completely.
By including a clear and simple message on their Facebook cover page, Leo Pharma lets their visitors know exactly what their company is all about. As far as I can tell, this is well within Canadian direct-to-consumer advertising regulations as well since none of the posts that I reviewed include information about a specific product. Remember that in Canada, we can only promote product name, price and quantity to consumers. Combining a product name with an indication goes against the guidelines. The posts on Leo Pharma’s Facebook page focus on corporate activities and partnerships with investors. Well done, Leo Pharma!
The Pfizer Facebook page cover is worth watching. The message is clear that all of their employees are different, have their own unique personal lives, but when they go to work, they are all dedicated to one common goal. Their ads (targeted to the U.S. audience) support this message as well.
Update June 27 2018, 12:23 pm: Pfizer Canada sent me an email to inform me that they have read my blog post and addressed the issue immediately. They have removed the ads from the EpiPen Canada Facebook page. I personally thank Pfizer Canada for taking my recommendation seriously and congratulate them for taking such speedy action.
One of my children needs to carry an EpiPen Junior all the time, so naturally, I follow the EpiPen Canada Facebook page. I have always been impressed with the quality of their posts .
Despite my personal interest in the brand, I am a marketer at heart and I like checking out the ads on certain Facebook pages. But this time, I came across an unusual situation.
Under the “Ads” tab of the EpiPen Canada Facebook page were ads for rheumatoid arthritis options and Pristiq, a prescription drug indicated for the symptomatic relief of major depressive disorder. For those who aren’t familiar with EpiPen, it is an epinephrine autoinjector for serious allergies. There is no obvious relation between the EpiPen Facebook page or the two ads.
Imagine the confusion that people who see these ads on their Facebook timeline when they see that the ads come from the EpiPen Canada Facebook page yet are completely unrelated.
With such a strong focus on transparency when it comes to advertising, it seems odd to see the EpiPen Canada Facebook page advertise for other brands which belong to its parent company, Pfizer.
Where should these ads appear on Facebook?
Pfizer Canada, the distributor of EpiPen in Canada, has an active Facebook page. It would have been more appropriate to run these advertisements from the Pfizer Canada Facebook page. At the time when I saw the ads on the EpiPen Canada Facebook page, the Pfizer Canada Facebook page did not have any ads listed.
Why would EpiPen promote Rheumatoid Arthritis options and Pristiq?
Rationale 1: Skirting regulatory guidelines?
Initially, I thought perhaps the company was trying to separate its ads from other related ads which may have been perceived as going against the direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertisement regulations by Health Canada. For example, in Canada, pharmaceutical DTC can ONLY refer to aproduct’s name, price and quantity. The moment you mention a disease as part of the ad, any mention of the product name must be removed. It’s one or the other, never both.
If a particular Facebook page were to advertise about a disease state in one ad, and at the same time advertise about the related product, that would probably get the company in trouble. But this was NOT the case, since Pfizer Canada had no ads listed at all. Phewfff!
Rationale 2: Human error?
Another rationale for this mix-and-match of ads on a Facebook page is that somebody probably just made a mistake, either by not realizing that the ads should have been on the Pfizer Canada Facebook page, or simply did not realize that they were placing the ads on the EpiPen Canada Facebook page
This would be particularly plausible if the agency handling the brands’ online and social advertising managed both the corporate social media as well as the social media for EpiPen. But frankly, it seems to me that this could inadvertently happen for one ad, but for two? Hmmm … probably not.
Rational 3: Corporate politics?
Pfizer is a very large company. Perhaps there was a lot of red tape to go through to get approval to place these ads under the overarching Pfizer Canada Facebook page so a decision was made to get the ads out quickly and to just go piggy-back off the EpiPen Facebook page. As marketers in any industry, we all need to be a bit creative sometimes.
Who knows why this happened. Perhaps I my guesses didn’t even come close. Whatever the reason, I honestly do not believe that any ill intentions were involved. Nonetheless, those ads should not remain under the EpiPen umbrella.
What should be done about these unrelated Facebook ads?
Although it is not the end of the world, having one brand advertise for a totally unrelated brand or disease state looks unprofessional. It may also be perceived as unethical because it lacks transparency and it could be confusing to patients who see the ads on their Facebook timeline.
Just my two cents, but Pfizer Canada may want to consider deleting the unrelated ads from the EpiPen Canada Facebook page and reinstating them under the Pfizer Canada Facebook page, or creating separate, new Facebook pages that are specific for the individual ads.
What other interesting Facebook advertising scenarios have you come across?