Ad Age carried a great article about the terror struck into the hearts of pharmaceutical companies that find themselves on the losing end of a battle with Michael Moore-style filmmakers who are using YouTube to criticize the industry.
What really caught my eye was a quote from Dorothy Wetzel, former consumer-marketing chief at Pfizer and now senior VP-management supervisor at Saatchi & Saatchi, New York, where she works on AstraZeneca accounts.
These budding Michael Moores are a worry to the industry “because there are no internal controls on YouTube, but you have to get used to it, because it's here to stay,” she said.
Again, that obsessive need to completely control the message rears its ugly head. It impossible in a post blog and YouTube world to keep everything managed and under control.
One video is from a former representative for Eli Lilly and Co.'s antipsychotic drug Zyprexa, which turns out to cause weight gain. He explains how he “sold” the drug by spinning the stats and side effects.
The other video is is a trailer for a 46-minute documentary called “Big Bucks, Big Pharma: Marketing Disease and Pushing Drugs” from the Media Education Foundation.
A somewhat related post from Charles Green's Trust Matters blog delves into how the industry got itself in this pickle to start with and is probably the best explanation of how corporate executives in general, and pharmaceutical companies specifically, should start to think:
Pharma needs a fundamental recontracting with two critical constituencies—patients and physicians. It’s a business thirsting for trust—but trust based on values and behaviors. Not on spin, ads, press releases, awareness improvement and “education.”
If this weren't enough, Michael Moore himself is about to release Sicko, which premiered late last month at the Cannes Film Festival, and is due to open in theaters later this month on June 29th. According to PRWeek, Michael Moore is going on the PR offensive.
The film's producer, The Weinstein Co. (TWC), has already assembled a communications team to promote the film, while defending it against any potential attacks.
Other major healthcare bloggers, like my client eDrugSearch.com, have also picked up on this news and are watching to see what happens. Such bloggers will amplify Moores messages.
While this particular crisis is currently swirling around the pharma industry, don't think it is restricted to pharma. Other industries will also need to understand that is is now possible (an even the modus operandi) for a few determined groups to cause major waves to force government action.
tags: Michael+Moore, Pharmaceutical, Big+Pharma, Crisis+Communication