Potentially the very 1st Canadian pharma ad on Facebook, May 2010.
This article was published on my original blog, Marketing4Health.ca, on May 13, 2010.
Since it is a significant milestone for the Canadian pharmaceutical industry, I decided to republish it on my new blog and backdate it so that it can be accessed by anybody who may need it as a reference point. Oh how we’ve come a long way since then!
A brave Canadian pharmaceutical company has taken the plunge and is giving FaceBook direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising a try. King Pharmaceuticals has been promoting its EpiPen.ca website via the following English and French FaceBook ads:The call-to-action is to take the allergy risk test, but it appears as though the main objective of the site itself is to introduce the new EpiPen and EpiPen Jr (0.3 and 0.15 mg epinephrine) Auto-injectors (“EpiPen”) to Canadian consumers and healthcare professionals. Both the FaceBook ads and the site are DTC advertising. Although King Pharmaceuticals launched the new EpiPen and EpiPen Jr Auto-Injectors on April 14 2010, I first noticed the FaceBook ad on Monday May 10th 2010. Of course, it is possible that the ad was launched sooner and that it just came to my attention later.
Can a prescription Rx brand copy this social media model? EpiPen falls under “ethical pharmaceuticals” in the regulatory system. However, it is not a schedule F product (prescription required for sale). Therefore, section c01.044 of Canada’s Food and Drug Regulations Act (which limits pharmaceutical DTC advertising to only product name, price, quantity) does not apply. To promote a prescription product (Schedule F) in a FaceBook ad (DTC), only the product name, price and quantity would be allowable because it is a public direct-to-consumer placement. Since the PAAB approves campaigns as a whole, this would also apply to any website that the FaceBook ad would link to. For more information about Canadian regulatory requirements for prescription products promoted in social media, see Highlights from “Social Media Marketing in Pharma: What Works in Canada” or contact Patrick Massad at the PAAB. If you are interested in learning more about Canadian regulatory guidelines for other types of healthcare products, you might like this article.
Is this the first Canadian pharma ad on FaceBook? As far as the ads that I have seen on my personal FaceBook profile, this is the first one that I have seen from a Canadian pharmaceutical company. There may have been others. I might have missed them, or perhaps I was not part of the target market for the ad. So unless somebody tells me otherwise, I do believe that this is the very first branded FaceBook ad by a Canadian pharmaceutical company. In fact, I have not seen an unbranded FaceBook ad by any Canadian pharma companies. I you know of others, then please share in the comments section.
Is the FaceBook ad driving traffic to the EpiPen.ca website? Since the EpiPen FaceBook ad seems to have the objective of driving unique visitor traffic to the EpiPen.ca website, it is reasonable to track traffic to the site as an ROI measurement. As an outsider, I will use data from Alexa and Compete. The following data and snapshot were taken on May 12 2010:
- Alexa traffic rank as of May 12 2010 is 1,562,812
- Alexa traffic rank in Canada is 27,244.
- 1,177 monthly unique visitors to the website in February 2010.
Congratulations to King Pharmaceuticals for taking this innovative step.