Pharma doesn’t always get a lot of love. However, for content strategists and marketers, pharma brands, particularly the unbranded sites and apps, are a huge opportunity to flex what is perhaps any good content strategist’s #1 requirement—empathy.
It offers an opportunity to work on content that could potentially help someone who is really suffering or to educate under appreciated caregivers about an illness. Additionally, for those who are up for a good challenge, the legal constraints of the space offer a level of complexity that you don’t necessarily get with… a candy brand.
Unbranded vs. Branded
For all those that are newer to pharma, here’s the difference between “branded” and an “unbranded.”
Branded content includes the product’s name, indications, and attributes. Unbranded does not.
For example, this is GSK’s branded site for Advair.com.
Meanwhile, asthma.com is GSK’s unbranded site focused on asthma.
Role of Unbranded
So, why would a pharma brand want to spend money on tactics that don’t mention their brand? Well, there’s a number of good reasons.
- Educate patients and caregivers (even Healthcare Professionals) who are searching for info about their disease.
- Raise awareness of the disease and increase diagnosis.
- Drive leads by registering patients/caregivers/healthcare professionals in a CRM database.
- Drive patients to prescribers.
- Good PR, as it is an opportunity to support a good cause or foster good will toward the brand
- Since unbranded content doesn’t contain product claims, it’s less regulated and you can move more quickly to market.
Additionally—while some companies are more comfortable with this than others—there can also be an opportunity to link the branded site to the unbranded site.
Top Six Unbranded Experiences
While there are tons of amazing examples of unbranded pharma resources currently out there, OutbrainHealth (our dedicated “health” division at Outbrain) has selected our current top six picks for best unbranded experiences.
Kudos to their team for finally getting some of the appreciation they deserve—and we hope you learn from their best practices.
- Pfizer and American Lung Association, Quitter’s Circle– Quitter’s Circle is Pfizer and the American Lung Association’s amazing resource for those who want to quit smoking and their supporters. The robust website features informative articles on topics like “4 Potential Benefits of Quitting Smoking that You May Not Know,” and timely articles like “Tips for Dealing with Smoking Triggers During Back-to-School Season.” A Facebook page is also used to tap into a growing community of those who want to quit smoking. Quitter’s Circle pushes out encouraging words from supporters to keep subscribers motivated, in addition to informative articles from the website. Additionally, an app helps users follow a “quit plan,” allows them to track savings and daily reflections, read tips and helpful content, earn badges to celebrate success, set reminders for doctor’s appointments, and share tips and milestones on Facebook. Supporters can also receive updates on the Quitter’s key milestones and encourage quitters by sending emoticons, stickers, and quit cards.
2. Novartis, Set Your Sights– Novartis’s Set Your Sights is an online resource for people living with eye disease. It offers preventative advice (“Tips for Keeping Your Eyes Young” and “Nutrition for Vision”) as well as educational articles about vision conditions you may not have been previously aware of. There is also a mix of content targeted to Healthcare Professionals, such as a video about ViaOpta Simulator, which can be a new way to better tap into empathy to diagnose and help your patients. Additionally, Novartis amplifies their website content with active Facebook and Twitter pages.
3. Pfizer, Woman On– Another winner by Pfizer (with help from the agencies Twist Mtkg, Group SJR, Carat, Wunderman, and Vynamic). The Shorty Award Finalist, Woman On, empowers women by educating them on menopause topics. Its audience can find informative articles like “5 Steps to Help Protect Your Bones,” more humorous ones like “Dear Menopause (An Open Letter),” as well as infographics, gifs, and videos. The resource also helps you locate a North American Menopause Society (NAMS) Certified Menopause Practitioner near you. Additionally, the Woman On Facebook page is the largest menopause community in the US.
4. Allergan PLC, #Actually She Can– Following last year’s new name post-merger of PLC and Allergan, Allergan PLC rolled out #Actually She Can, a multichannel campaign (website, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) that educates young woman on contraception options and offers empowering advice on body image and health. A film series it created in partnership with Tribeca Digital Studios portrays young women who are achieving their ambitions, like a 24-year-old chef running a face-paced and successful restaurant in New York and a traveling photojournalist in the Alaskan wilderness. You can also catch video clips from celebrities like Gabby Douglas and Chloe Grace Moretz talking about how their lives have been changed by mentors.
5. Novartis, Living Like You
Novartis’ magazine-style resource for Multiple Sclerosis aims to help those with MS who cope with their disease on a daily basis with articles from dedicated bloggers who are also coping with MS at different stages. Articles like “Dear Doctor, Please Talk Human to Me,” “MS and Migraines: Exploring the Missing Link,” and “The Perks of Going Part-Time” demystify the illness and are written in an empathetic tone of voice that will resonate with patients and caregivers who are often times trying to live full and productive lives with MS . Given that there’s so much we still don’t know about MS too, Living Like You aims to provide patients and caregivers who are constantly researching with the latest in the space. Living Like You also has an active community on Facebook and experiments with hashtags on Twitter, like last year’s social #MSLifeHacks campaign for World MS Day.
6. Pfizer, Arthritis.com
Pfizer’s Arthritis.com is an excellent resource that provides information about rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. It also provides a helpful symptom tracker that users can print or email to take to your next doctor’s appointment. A section of the site is also dedicated to articles all about living with arthritis. The “body” section is dedicated to health and exercise tips. The “life” section is focused on financial, relationship, and parenting advice. Finally, the “spirit” section is filled with inspirational articles about spirituality and positivity. Article authors include Logan Levkoff, an intimacy and relationship expert and Alexa von Tobel, a New York Times bestselling author and founder of LearnVest.
Pharma brands have been doing some great work in the unbranded space, helping to educate patients, caregivers, and HCPs while raising awareness for their profile as well. We hope that you check out some of the above work and learn from their best practices in the space.
OutbrainHealth is a division of Outbrain dedicated to ensuring people get the most relevant and timely health content recommended to them at the right place and right time.