New! Approval Required for Medical Device Advertisements in Canada

A30365798_sds Standards has updated their advertising guidelines.

As of January 2, 2018, Canadian marketers must send their medical device advertisements through a review process with Ad Standards Clearance Services.  For more details, take a look the new Guidelines for Consumer Advertising of Health Products (for Nonprescription Drugs, Natural Health Products, Vaccines and Medical Devices).

Here are more details directly from the Ad Standards website:

Effective July 1, 2018, Telecaster Services of thinktv will require approval numbers for any new broadcast commercials. Previously aired commercials can continue to air until December 31, 2018, without requiring preclearance

The updated Guidelines, developed by Ad Standards Clearance Services in consultation with Health Canada and industry, are intended to help advertisers create advertising messages that meet all the relevant provisions of the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations, the Natural Health Products Regulations, the Medical Devices Regulations and other related Health Canada Policies and Guidelines. They replace the 2006 Consumer Advertising Guidelines for Marketed Health Products (for Nonprescription Drugs including Natural Health Products).

Marketed health products workshops

The Ad Standards Clearance Services team will be hosting workshops in Toronto on January 31 and in Montreal on February 15.  Both presentations will be in English.

The workshops will highlight key sections of the updated Guidelines and the dos and don’ts of advertising nonprescription drugs, natural health products, vaccines and medical devices. Though the Montreal workshop will be presented in English, the slides will also be available in French.

Click on the links below for more details on these workshops:

Marketed Health Products Workshop, Toronto – January 31
Marketed Health Products Workshop, Montreal – February 15

Facebook Groups and Watch Parties (new video product being tested)

Facebook is strongly focused on helping people connect with one another lately.  Last week, Mark Zuckerberg informed us that business pages would very soon be getting next to no organic views of their posts anymore.  We heard digital marketers all over the world sobbing instantly.  If you are still bummed out about that, there are things that you can still do to get your posts seen on Facebook.   One of the suggestions is to consider setting up groups, or increase your usage of existing Facebook groups.

Yesterday, Fidji Simo, the VP of  Product for Video at Facebook, announced that some Facebook groups will have access to a new product called Watch Parties.  Interestingly enough, Mark Zuckerberg did mention that we would be seeing more posts from friends and family, and from Facebook GROUPS !!!!  Coincidence?  I don’t think so.

Here is how she described Facebook group Watch Parties:

I’m really excited about a new video experience we are starting to test today with a handful of Groups: Watch Parties.

In a Watch Party, members of a Group can watch videos together in the same space at the same time — videos are chosen by the Group admins and moderators, and can be any public videos on Facebook (live or recorded). With everyone watching, commenting and reacting to the same moments together, it creates a shared viewing experience for video that helps build the kind of community and engagement we’ve seen with Live.

The Watch Party viewing experience is special because of the people you are watching with. We’re starting with Groups because one billion people use Facebook Groups every month to connect around their passions and hobbies – from foodies, to dog lovers, to sports enthusiasts, to fans of video creators – and video is a huge part of this interaction. While this is just a small test at the moment, we’ll be learning, and hope to expand Watch Party in the future.


Ever since we heard the news last week about Facebook groups having priority on the newsfeed vs. business pages, I have been thinking of ways to benefit my clients with Facebook groups.  There are opportunities there and this new Watch Party that is being tested would definitely be an asset.

My focus is healthcare marketing, so let’s imagine a hospital-run Facebook group that focuses on pregnant patients.  You could choose a public video on Facebook, perhaps from your business page, or better yet, live stream a public video of a prenatal course.  The expecting Moms and Dads could watch together at the same time and post comments and questions to one another while watching.

Mari Smith, the Queen of Facebook, posted about the new Facebook group Watch Party as well and she compared this new video product to YouTube circa 2008.  We’ve all seen how far some Youtubers have come along since the earlier years of YouTube.  If you start building your audience now, this might be your opportunity to grow a huge following on Facebook.

Would you use Watch Party, either as a Facebook user or as an admin of a Facebook group?  I know I would, and I’m hoping that my clients’ groups are or will be part of the test group.

Bell Let’s Talk on Social Media

Bell Let's Talk

Bell Let’s Talk is a yearly initiative by Bell Canada that promotes open and frank discussion about mental health.  It’s been hugely successful and many celebrities have been involved in the campaign, thus helping Bell garner even more visibility for this worthy campaign.  Hats off to Bell Canada for sponsoring this campaign since 2010.  Bell Canada is on track to donating $100 million to mental health programs by the year 2020.

Setting up social media profiles to support such a campaign, which is not focused on selling products or services whatsoever, is a clever way of increasing one’s brand name visibility.  For example, the Bell Let’s Talk social media networks compared to the Bell Canada networks are as follows:

  Twitter followers Facebook page likes Instagram followers
Bell Let’s Talk 161K followers



236K on Facebook




14.7K on Instagram



Bell Canada 82K combined for @Bell and @BellSupport


171K (English and French page followers combined) 4.5K

There are approximately 40% more Bell Let’s Talk social media followers than there are Bell Canada followers.  That makes for 40% more people to hear about Bell Canada, even though it isn’t specifically about their products or services.  It is still a great way to get visibility and brand name recall.  As a result, even though the company is spending money to promote the Bell Let’s Talk campaign, gives millions in donations (which is tax write-off for the company at the end of the year) and does not receive any revenues for this particular campaign, many would say that the PR and brand visibility is well worth it.

This campaign truly does achieve its goal of enhancing communication about mental health as can be seen by the Google Trend chart for the search term “mental health” in Canada for the past 12 months.  You can see the January bump in data which indicates last year’s Bell Let’s Talk  initiative.  Search trends for the term “mental health” do not come close throughout the remainder of the year.

Mental Health Google trends in Canada - past 12 months


Here is the current portfolio of Facebook ads for the Bell Let’s Talk campaign, which are being promoted a couple of weeks before the actual event itself, which will take place on January 31 2018.  This year, the campaign is focused on the lives of 37 real people who are telling their story of mental health.  The ads all promote the event’s hashtag, #BellLetsTalk, and many of the ads consist of videos between 30 second and 1 1/2 minutes.  Several of them have a call-to-action to learn more, and by clicking on this button, you get brought to the Bell Let’s Talk webpage with details on the mental health stories included in the campaign.

We will continue to watch the Bell Let’s Talk campaign to see how it evolves on social media.  Stay tuned!


Note: I am not affiliated with Bell Let’s Talk, Bell Canada, nor the agency that developed the campaign. I’m just appreciating their work, and I enjoy learning from others’ campaigns.

Pfizer Canada Recognizes Employees on Social Media with #PfizerColleagues

In 2001, Pfizer started calling their employees “colleagues’, as a way to demonstrate that those who work at Pfizer are the organization’s most valuable asset. Although the term “Pfizer Colleagues” appears in various online documents from Pfizer conglomerates around the world, it’s the way that Pfizer Canada uses it that struck a chord with me.

Since direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising is limited to product name, price and quantity in Canada, very few Canadian pharmaceutical companies bother to have a presence on social media.  It’s too risky.  However, Pfizer Canada is present on several platforms, and they actively post messages. Their messages are within the Canadian pharmaceutical advertising guidelines as they focus on PR focused on their company rather than their products.  One of their PR focus consists of their employees’ good deeds, and they tag those with the hashtag #PfizerColleagues.

The #PfizerColleagues hashtag is not new.  Pfizer Canada has been using it since late 2014 on Facebook and Twitter.  According to, the #PfizerColleagues hashtag is highly correlated with the #GiveAHand hashtag.  Pfizer Canada seems to be the only Pfizer conglomerate who is actively using that hashtag.  This is not to say that other conglomerates aren’t promoting Pfizer Colleagues in their own way, just that the hashtag seems to be specific to the Canadian branch.

Not only is Pfizer Canada taking the time to publicly recognize their employees’ colleagues’ good deeds by posting them on various social media platforms, but they are also paying to sponsor some of those ads.  Currently, Pfizer Canada is sponsoring a #PfizerColleagues post on Facebook.

Pfizer Canada

Congratulations to Pfizer Canada for publicly recognizing its colleagues’ good deeds for their community on social media.  That’s what great leaders do – they boost the ones that make their organization what it truly is.


LinkedIn Groups are Making a Comeback

34848480_sIt appears as though LinkedIn will be putting more emphasis on integrating LinkedIn Groups into the overall LinkedIn experience.  Here is a message that was sent out yesterday to LinkedIn group admins:



We’re currently working on making some changes to the LinkedIn Groups experience, and because you are a valued group admin, we wanted to give you some advance details on what’s coming. Groups is at the heart of what makes LinkedIn a trusted place for professionals to help and support one another, and the changes we’re planning will make Groups a bigger part of the main LinkedIn experience.

Our focus on re-integrating Groups back into the core LinkedIn experience means that we will no longer be able to support a standalone iOS app for Groups; that app will stop working as of February 15, 2018. But please know that your existing group memberships and contributions will not be affected as part of that change.

As a preview, here are some of the improvements you can look forward to when we roll them out to the main LinkedIn Groups web and mobile experiences:

Discover and access Groups more easily. You’ll be able to access your Groups right from the homepage, and you’ll see the latest content from your Groups in notifications and the homepage feed.

Be a part of richer conversations. You’ll be able to post videos into your groups, @mention the members you want to weigh in, and keep the conversation going by replying to comments.

Ultimately, our goal is to create an even better Groups experience within the primary LinkedIn applications, so we are putting our focus there over the coming weeks and months. We’ll be sending you updates as these improvements and many others become available. Stay tuned!


The LinkedIn Team

Some of you might be wondering if it is best to start a new group or participate in one.  This depends on what level of resources you plan on putting towards LinkedIn marketing.  Companies with substantial resources may have enough to create, grow and maintain a LinkedIn group.  This might be well worth the investment if your products and / or services are mostly business-to-business.  If you don’t have substantial resources, try joining a few related, neutral (not owned by a competitor) groups and participate.  Ask questions, provide tips, participate in the existing discussions.  Please don’t just use this as an opportunity to promote your blog posts.  If your blog post can add value to the group members, then explain this as part of your discussion.  Participating in LinkedIn groups could be a great way to determine if it would be worth investing more for your own group or not.  Every company needs to evaluate their own business needs and strategic objectives.

But if there is one thing that ALL companies should be doing on LinkedIn, it is creating a LinkedIn company page and updating it regularly with information that would be of interest to employees, would-be employees, business partners and business clients.

Considering the recent news about Facebook making changes to its newsfeed, digital marketers should be diversifying their online presence, if they aren’t already.  If you are managing a B2B business, then LinkedIn probably can present you with some great opportunities.

9 tips to Manage the New Facebook Newsfeed Changes

45145609_s.jpgMark Zuckerberg, the co-founder and CEO of Facebook, announced last week that he will be implementing Facebook newsfeed changes so that Facebook becomes more focused at connecting people with their friends and loved ones, like it was designed to be in the social network’s very beginning.  He plans to achieve this by giving a lift to posts by friends and reducing the number of posts by pages in your newsfeed.

Currently, there is more public content – posts from businesses, brands and media Facebook pages – than there are personal posts, which results in personal posts being crowded out.  Facebook plans to readjust this imbalance and add more value to the time you spend on Facebook so that you see more personal posts from friends.  Mark Zuckerberg fully expects people to spend less time on Facebook as a result, but he believes that the time spent will result in connecting people which will be more meaningful and valuable.

In his post, Mark Zuckerberg specifically refers to the impact that Facebook has with regards to the mental health of its users;

The research shows that when we use social media to connect with people we care about, it can be good for our well-being. We can feel more connected and less lonely, and that correlates with long term measures of happiness and health. On the other hand, passively reading articles or watching videos — even if they’re entertaining or informative — may not be as good.

We can all agree that improving the mental health of the population is indeed a step in the right direction.

Facebook page owners will need to readjust the way they are currently using Facebook.

As a Facebook page owner, you have probably noticed a decrease in engagement on your posts over the past year or so.  Unfortunately, with Mark Zuckerberg’s recent statement, it would be reasonable to expect that this decreasing engagement trend will continue and may in fact reach zero for the majority of your posts.

So what should a Facebook page owner do?  First thing is first – don’t quit!  Yes, things are changing with the new Facebook newsfeed changes, so you will just have to be flexible and change along with it.  Page posts will still appear in newsfeeds, but we will see much fewer of them, so you will need to adjust your posts to ensure that they fit the criteria that Facebook is looking for.  Here are a few suggestions that might help you to get visibility and engagement on your Facebook posts:

  1. As soon as possible, set up a post to ask your followers to list you as a “See first” page. We included an image as an example of how to show your followers what to do, but an even better tactic would be to turn this into a video.  Videos are given priority on Facebook, so more of your Facebook followers will get a chance to see your message.  By clicking on “See first”, this will ensure that your new posts appear at the top of the viewer’s newsfeed.  You probably won’t get a ton of people who will take the time to do this, but those who do are definitely your most loyal followers and you can probably expect more engagement from them.  You may even want to send this message out to your email list.See First on FB - Jan 2018
  2. Pay for advertising or boost some of your most valuable posts, and target them wisely.  Facebook is a public company so it needs to make money and advertising is a great revenue generator for them.  My assumption is that you won’t be the only one that either starts to advertise on Facebook or increases its level of advertisement in this medium, so there will be a lot of competition between Facebook advertisers from now on.
  3. Remember about 8 years ago when many companies had Facebook groups but then pages came out and we were told that we would get more out of pages, so we all switched to pages?  Well, it’s time to start groups again on Facebook.  Mark Zuckerberg specifically mentioned that we can expect to see more posts from our friends, family and groups on Facebook.  Groups are an excellent way to communicate with the more engaged members of your Facebook page.  For example, you might want to set up a group that specifically focuses on a small project together, or you might want to set up a group that acts as a focus group panel.
  4. Some posts naturally get a lot of engagement.  Those posts will be perceived as valuable by Facebook and as such will continue to be seen on followers’ Facebook newsfeeds. You must strive to create valuable posts that will attract a lot of engagement.  Gone are the days that you use Facebook just to announce your new blog post link or to ask for engagement.  Facebook will penalize you by giving those posts even less visibility in newsfeeds.  Know your audience and give them what they want.  Hitting the mark once won’t be enough.  You’ll need to do this over and over again.  You might want to use your groups to inform members of special posts and hope that many of them will engage with the post thus increasing your chances that the post will be seen by others who may also find it valuable.
  5. Live videos will most likely continue to be prioritized despite the new Facebook newsfeed changes.  In your content calendar, include as many opportunities as possible for a live video.  Identify several members on your team who do well in front of the camera and start taping more live videos.
  6. Promoting local events on Facebook should also continue to be seen in newsfeeds. You can find the Facebook Local app on Google Play or on the App Store.
  7. Build and continue updating your own email list.  If it is your email list, you own it and you will be able to use it long-term (assuming your clients have a long-term lifetime with you)
  8. Have visibility on other social networks.  Don’t put all your eggs in the same basket.
  9. Use keywords and hashtags in your post so that people can find your content via the Facebook search function.

So there you have it!  You and most Facebook marketers are probably feeling anxious about the upcoming Facebook newsfeed changes.  Most of us will have to change the way we use Facebook, but it’s not the end of the world.  Expect different results.  Test with a few different ideas and styles.  But don’t give up!  As digital marketers, we just need to readjust the way that we promote on Facebook in such a manner as to help connecting people.

Facebook Says Those Actively Engaged on Social Media Feel Better


Image source:

Facebook recently posted findings from independent research and their own analysis which suggests that if one is less actively engaged in connecting with others on Facebook, that they tend to feel worse.  By ‘engaged’ they are referring to liking, sharing, commenting on posts.  The research in no way is encouraging more time to be spent on Facebook or social media for one’s well being, but rather actively engaging in the conversations within the media so that you experience meaningful interactions.

We’ve all been at a party where we sometimes feel less engaged with the other attendees, and at other times we have connected with the others that were there by chatting and communicating.  Which made you feel better or worse?  Is social media all that different?

Here is a short caption of the Facebook post.  You will find the post in its entirety here.

What Do Academics Say? Is Social Media Good or Bad for Well-Being?

According to the research, it really comes down to how you use the technology. For example, on social media, you can passively scroll through posts, much like watching TV, or actively interact with friends — messaging and commenting on each other’s posts. Just like in person, interacting with people you care about can be beneficial, while simply watching others from the sidelines may make you feel worse.

Facebook provides a few examples on how meaningful interactions on social media may benefit one’s well being; connecting with friends and relatives that are long-distance to you, getting help in finding an organ donor with the help of Facebook groups, sharing health experiences with others in that live with a similar health condition and helping somebody who may feel suicidal.

Some are calling this Facebook blog post self-serving.  I do not believe that it was meant to be a manipulative post to get you to spend more time on social media sites.  Instead, I got the sense that the post was meant to provide some data that might assist some users to establish a more meaningful experience while using social media sites.  In no way are they suggesting users to use the site more often or for longer periods.  Instead, Facebook is suggesting that you might feel better about yourself if you connect with others while you’re using the site, just as you would if you were at a party.

Facebook Ads Case Study: Movember Foundation Canada

Thanks to the new Facebook advertising transparency, Canadians can see all current ads from any Facebook page.  As such, I thought I would do a Facebook ads case study of the Movember Foundation Canada Facebook advertising activity during the month of November.

In my opinion, Movember Foundation Canada really did a great job in promoting their cause on Facebook during the month of November.  The following is a quick analysis of their advertising campaign, but if you are just curious to see samples of their ads, then go straight to the bottom of this blog post.

Objective of Facebook advertising:

The objective of their ad campaign was obvious and consistent – to promote the importance of men’s health and generate donations.

Focused advertising message:

Their advertising message was able to grab the audience’s attention because it was short and impactful.  For example, even though they had multiple ads on Facebook running simultaneously, the majority of their ads had quick statistics about men’s health that were really hard to ignore.  The consistency of their message was also well done.  Not only was their message consistent from ad to ad, even though the wording was slightly different, the imagery and font were consistent as well.  After having seen a few of their ads, you could spot one of their new ads a mile away just by glancing at them, and that’s what you want as an advertiser – quick recognition and instant recall.  You want people to gain some familiarity with your brand, and frequency and consistency of messaging is key.  That is the key to recall and a great start towards brand attachment.

Emotional component:

Although some of their ads were more of a direct reminder to donate, the majority of their ads provided frightening statistics about men’s health.  You couldn’t help but think of the men in your life, and how you did not want them to end up being one of those statistics.

Images in Facebook ads:

Movember Canada ads used a lot of imagery that were consistent, yet used interchangeably.  Sometimes they used imagery of proud men with mustaches, sometimes the men were with their children, partner and father.  But the man with the mustache was always the centre of attention.

Video in Facebook ads:

I really liked that they used various videos as well.  Many of the videos were either just a few seconds or below the 30 second mark, which was long enough to get their message across, but short enough to for even those with short-attention span to watch the video.  I don’t have statistics for the Movember campaign, but from other ad studies, we know that people lack attention therefore the shorter the video, the more likely people will watch it in its entirety.

Donate Button in Facebook ads:

Movember Canada had a clear call to action with their Facebook ads, and that was made clear to the audience with their frequent usage of the Donate button.  Of course it is more likely for a viewer of an ad to take action if that action is made clear to them and is easy to accomplish.  Facebook provides various call to action buttons on their ads.  Take advantage of them and use them when you place an ad on Facebook.  Some call-to-action buttons, such as the donate button, are for specific page categories.  For example, only pages that are under the not-for-profit category may have access to the donate button.  And even then, you may not have access to the button that you want as Facebook may be rolling them out over time.

CEO had a message in a Facebook video ad:

Too few companies take advantage of their own people when it comes to videos posts and video ads.  Your people are the ones who are the most passionate about your cause.  Those who are passionate will appeal to your target audience.  Hats off to the Movember Foundation Canada CEO who took the time to leave a personal message to the target audience.  We hope to see more of that from other organizations as well.  If clients or donors get to know you on a personal level, you will have an opportunity to tap into their emotional side and typically this will make your clients / donors like you that much more.  The downside, of course, is that if there is a lot of turnover that is perceived by the target audience, they will wonder what is going on and they might not always feel as attached to one person as they do to another.

Reminder of deadline:

During the final week of November, Movember placed several ads reminding its target audience that there were only 3, 2 or 1 days left before the end of Movember, again with a call to action button to donate.  This was a clever way to work on the emotional side of those within their audience that work best under pressure, trying to get in as many last donations as possible.

What could have they done better?

Overall, the Movember Foundation Canada Facebook ad campaign seemed to be well coordinated and implemented.  We cannot comment on the effectiveness of the ad campaign because we do not have access to their analytics, but we can make an educated assumption that the organization was happy with the results, because they had the option to do less or even stop the ads, but they kept up their advertising level which indicates that Movember Foundation Canada was at the very least satisfied in reaching their objective.

There was a contest advertised during the month of November.  That seemed to have gotten lost with all the other ads taking place during that time.  However, this was not the focus of the advertising objective.  It is clear that the objective was to raise donations, so it is easy to see why this contest was not advertised to the same degree as the donation ads.

Personally, I would have liked to see a few ads of women and children talking about their father, husband, grandfather, uncle, friend, etc…  I mention this because I was part of their targeted audience.  On many occasions, I saw their ads pop up on my Facebook account, and several other online networks.  This was fine, except I felt many of the ads were talking to my husband, my brother, their buddies, and so on.  I would have liked to have seen perhaps 10% of their ads with women promoting better health options for the men in their lives.  My point is, if you’re going to include me in your target audience, then talk directly to me, at least from time to time.

What did Movember Foundation Canada get out of their Facebook ad campaign?:

With the multiple variations of ads created for their Movember campaign, I am certain that Movember Foundation Canada has a much better idea of the text and imagery that best appeals to their target audience.  Without their advertising statistics, it is difficult for us to evaluate which ads worked best for them, but considering that they went strong throughout the month with all these ad variations, three things can be assumed with a fair amount of certainty:

  1. Movember Foundation Canada knows what appeals to their target audience more than ever before.
  2. Movember Foundation Canada probably knows how to customize their targeting options in order to reach their ideal target audience more than before.
  3. Movember Foundation Canada probably did pretty good in terms of receiving donations from this campaign, because they obviously spent a fair amount of money on it and if it had not produced enough donations, they either would have reduced or stopped their campaign efforts.  This was not the case.  To the contrary, although I do not know how much they spent on their Facebook ads or how far their reach was for their targeted audience, I do know that they maintained a high level of ad variations throughout the month, which indicates to me that they were at the very least satisfied with the results.

Here are samples of their ad variations that were seen on Facebook throughout the month of November.  Note that they advertised on various other online and traditional media as well, but the focus of this blog post consists of their Facebook ad campaign.

Movember Foundation Canada Facebook ads:  Quick message and statistics


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Movember Foundation Canada Facebook ads featuring images with men:


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Movember Foundation Canada Facebook ads to encourage last minute donations:


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Movember Foundation Canada Facebook ads featuring CEO and ambassador:


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Note that I am not affiliated with Movember Foundation Canada nor its marketing agency. None of these ads were created by me. I am acting strictly as a viewer who was impressed with what they saw and thought others could learn from this as well.

What did you like the best of their Facebook ad campaign, and what would you have changed?  Leave us a comment below.

Fun Game to Learn the PAAB Code

Hey Canadian pharmaceutical marketers!  Let’s be honest; reading the PAAB code is tedious and most of us probably don’t find it that much fun.  I think PAAB feels your pain because they have come up with a fun game to help you learn the PAAB code, and it is completely free.

Sign up before November 20th and you will receive one email per day for four consecutive days (November 20, 21, 22 and 24 … I guess you get a break on November 23), each with questions related to the PAAB code.  Top scores will be showcased on a leader board.

Kudos to the PAAB team for coming up with such a creative way to reach out to their audience in a way that will appeal to them.

Canadian pharma marketers: What have you got to lose?  Go ahead and sign up for the free PAAB code game now and you can play your way through the PAAB code and guidances.

PAAB game