Reflections on the DTC National Convention

>> Monday, May 4, 2009

The annual DTC National Convention in Washington was a few weeks ago. I opened up the awards ceremony, where we collectively recognize the best work in direct-to-consumer pharma marketing.

You can see my opening remarks here: (the video is a little "homespun", but you'll get the point!).

The agency walked away with two awards:
- Silver for best television advertising for Transitions lenses
- Gold for best integrated campaign for Crestor (with our partners at Digitas Health)

Whenever I go to these kinds of conferences, I always try to leave with at least one little tidbit of learning. As I think back on this particular conference, I am struck by one lasting memory.

There was a lot of talk at the conference about the impending new regulation on consumer marketing of pharmaceuticals. Lots of speculation, lots of debate, lots of worry. There were actually a few people there from the FDA and from DDMAC, the very people who apply the regulation to our marketing materials.

And you know what! They are actually live human beings! Those folks at the FDA actually breathe! They all spoke very candidly about how they think through the regulation that has been passed, and how they would like to work collaboratively through the issues.

They acknowledged that the Obama administration is likely to impose some changes, particularly in the online space. In fact, we've already seen some of those changes happen in regards to search engine marketing.

If you really listen to them, really listen to them, you'll notice that they are incredibly consistent in their messaging. We may not agree with it and there is certainly lots of room for interpretation, but it is pretty consistent. "If you are going to talk about the benefits of a brand, then you also have to talk about the risks" -- pretty much sums it up.

Nice to meet you, FDA and DDMAC! While we may sometimes complain about it, we do in fact look forward to collaborating with you as we seek to educate consumers about their choices in healthcare.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


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