The Boehringer Ingelheim approach to digital – Part 5: Gather a crowd

Candice O'Sullivan
November 16, 2012

This is Part 5 of a five-part series exploring how Boehringer Ingelheim and its Director of Digital Communications, John Pugh, are leading the pharma industry’s shift into the digital space.

Got a problem? Need an idea? Why not share your issue with others and ask for their help? Better yet, why not broadcast it online and get the input of a whole lot of people? That, in a nutshell, is what marketers refer to as ‘online crowdsourcing’. It could be argued that, like everything ‘new’ in marketing, crowdsourcing simply represents a trendy label for an already tried and true methodology; after all, the phrase ‘two heads are better than one’ has been around for a while. It’s no secret that the best ideas often come from casting a wide net (no pun intended).

As part of its commitment to building brand engagement via digital media, Boehringer have used online crowdsourcing in a number of their campaigns. Perhaps the most successful of these initiatives was the ‘1 Mission 1 Million’ campaign. In an effort to lower the incidence of AF-related stroke, Boehringer invited groups from all around the world to submit their ideas for how to increase awareness of this health problem within the community, e.g. through research, screening programs, patient groups etc. The public, via the ‘1 Mission 1 Million’ website, then voted on which projects should receive funding from Boehringer.

The response? 184 entries from 36 countries, 2 million votes, 200 00o website comments, and 32 projects funded. That degree of engagement is impressive. So what did Boehringer do right?

  1. It offered the right kind of incentive. Money talks, particularly when your audience typically relies on funding from philanthropists, cash-poor governments and hard-to-access private enterprises. But this campaign also offered an emotional incentive; it connected with its target audience by shining a spotlight on a health issue starved of attention. By building its campaign around an unmet need, Boehringer succeeded in getting a lot of attention quickly, simply by starting a much-needed conversation.
  2. It conceived a campaign that could also serve as a brand-building exercise for its key brand in this therapeutic area, Pradaxa (dabigatran). Behind every good pharma campaign is a robust brand imperative. The ‘real’ objective behind this social campaign was to raise Boehringer’s profile in the area of AF-related stroke and in so doing build a clear association with Boehringer’s product offering in this space. Two million votes mean that two million people around the world now think of Boehringer when they think of AF-related stroke.
  3. It sought endorsement from leading international health experts and organisations such as the World Heart Federation and the Stroke Alliance for Europe, giving the campaign instant credibility. It also got ‘social cred’ by appointing the actress, Jane Seymour, as the campaign’s global ambassador. Importantly, Jane was able to speak about the campaign authentically due to her mother’s own experiences with AF and stroke.
  4. And finally, in line with its broader digital intent, Boehringer used social media to disseminate information about the campaign and to garner a response. This enabled global reach and made the campaign widely accessible. No matter where you were in the world, you could be a part of it. And that’s the whole point of social media, right?
For advice on where digital/social media fit in your healthcare marketing strategy, contact us.
 

By Candice O’Sullivan, Director and Head of Strategy at Wellmark. You can find Candice on Google+ at +Candice O’Sullivan.

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