friday musing

I’m a Fan
February 12, 2010, 3:50 pm
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Paul Dreyer

I am a fan, a fan of the Carolina Hurricanes. We have lots of people in the agency that are fans. We are Caniacs. For those of you who don’t follow hockey, the Canes won the Stanley Cup, the championship of the National Hockey League in 2006. The last game of the seven game series was electrifying, like nothing I had ever experienced in sports before or since. Since then the Canes have been up and down and started this year very poorly. They are playing better now but it is going to be a challenge for them to make the playoffs. No matter, I am a fan, a devoted enthusiast. 

The Canes played the hated Buffalo Sabres last night. We beat Buffalo on the way to our Stanley Cup and their loyal fans, who show up in great numbers at our home arena, don’t like us very much either. We won in overtime 4-3 on one of those plays that you just say “Wow, how did he do that?” I mean this is a sport played on slippery ice, on thin blades, with a hard bouncy puck with a crooked stick and you can not believe what these guys can do. You can watch the highlights but one of our young guys, Brandon Sutter, stole the puck from one of the hated Sabres and without looking backhanded the puck to Sergei Samsonov who beat their goalie, the hated Ryan Miller. (By the way for the next two weeks he will be the beloved Ryan Miller as he will be the goalie for Team USA in the Olympics.) The hated Sabres skated off the ice, their defeated fans left the building, all with their heads down and the Caniacs celebrated.


Last night was the first game for Vivian, the daughter of Amy, one of our account execs. Vivian may have made the difference in last nights game, you never know what one little cheer may have done for Brandon Sutter when he stole that puck and made that pass, it could have been the difference. On top of that, Viv is very cute and you may be reading this just because of the picture. I don’t think it would be accurate to call Viv a fan… yet.  Her Mom is a Caniac but at this point she is just working out how important the Canes are in her life. 

What’s hockey got to do with pharmaceutical advertising? At Friday Morning we are in the business of Creating Brands That Physicians Can Believe In. We are in the business of creating fans, enthusiastic devotees, for your brand.  Become a fan of Friday Morning, give us a call, let us show you what we can do. Let us Wow you!


What pizza can teach us about small being beautiful

Bruce Nicoll

I read an article in the New York Times a while back that put into perspective an issue I’ve been wrestling with for some time. The piece was called “Small by Choice, Whether Clients Like It or Not” by Kermit Pattison. Essentially, it told the story of a couple who opened a neighborhood pizza shop in Chicago, produced pizza verging on the sublime, became popular, got a fantastic review from a well known food critic with GQ magazine, and became exponentially more popular thanks to such glowing accolades. Everybody wanted their pizza. And then a funny thing happened; the owners, determined to resist the no-brainer response of growing big and unwieldy and risk seeing both the quality of their lives and the quality of their pies take a dive, had to struggle against an angry backlash from customers used to instant gratification and the privileges accruing from that old “customer is always right” mentality. The same one that has crept into agency-client relationships over the past few years. It seems many of the pizza parlor’s patrons were completely thrown by the prospect of having to wait in line to get the perfection they felt was their due. They wanted a superior experience, but in no time at all and also, by the way, without paying a premium. Sound familiar?

Healthcare advertising is full of big agencies, and with all the consolidation going on, the biggest ones are just getting bigger. Friday Morning, on the other hand, is a small, specialized boutique, a consultancy, staffed with everyone we need to conceive and execute dynamite ideas, and the confidence and experience to outsource any skills we don’t personally bring to the table. Kind of like a concierge service, if you like. We think that that’s a better way to serve the industry right now, because, while those aforementioned big agencies have (we guess) lots of happy clients, they also have plenty that aren’t over the moon with the results they’ve achieved in terms of sales.

Those big factories don’t always get it right. Sure, it looks like pizza and it smells like pizza. It comprises crust and cheese and herbs and tomato and what have you. Everyone says yes to whatever the customer asks. And it’s cheap, too. But it doesn’t necessarily make you want to burst into song. It doesn’t necessarily have physicians asking for more. For clients who understand the need to communicate with customers in a more profound way, it can leave them hungry for sales.

Maybe your campaign strategy needs some fresh ingredients? We believe that chefs who care deeply about producing something that is not only piping hot, but perfect, too, can make of the usual ingredients something uniquely satisfying to your brand requirements. If you’ve an appetite for that kind of work, we have your table ready. Buon appetito!

Becoming a butterfly
January 29, 2010, 5:19 pm
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Paul Dreyer 

I have been using a Franklin Day Planner for probably 15 years.  I used to be very diligent in planning each morning.  Identifying all my A, B and C priorities, gleefully checking of my As, never getting to my Cs.  Today I wrote down three priorities, including this blog post.  It is clearly not all I have to do but when I get them all done I will feel like I had a good day. 

Despite the fact that the Planner reminds me to buy my new insert in September, I never get around to it until December; a good time because no one else is shopping then.  I went to the store, the day before Christmas to pick out the insert and was disappointed in the selection.  In the past I had purchased a Dilbert insert, an ESPN insert, a Far Side insert, something that added some enjoyment to each day as I would flip the new page.  But this time it was all serious, business like, mostly black and white or gray.  You may know that Steven Covey and Franklin Planner are linked now, so maybe the less than serious stuff needed to go.  I haven’t read his book but maybe The 8th Habit doesn’t allow you to have fun.  Maybe Steven Covey doesn’t like Dilbert or sports. Who knows. 

Anyway, I bought one…the Leadership-Classic.  Each page is laid out with a small picture of some rather imposing sheer faces of a mountain and each day there is a quote from famous and not so famous people.  Let me share two from some famous people.                               


          “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.  If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”  Warren Buffett 


          ” My counsel on the subject of credibility adds up to this: Don’t think about it.  Focus instead on honesty, perspective, and performance.” Katherine Graham 

At Friday Morning we have been talking to lots of people about the current state of the relationship between pharma and its key customer, the physician.  The relationship is not so good and we should be “doing things differently.”  Credibility has also declined and a focus on “honesty, perspective and performance” sounds like a winning solution.  Most of the clients we are talking to agree that things need to change and they want to know what is the magic solution.  Believe me, we are good, but we are not magicians.  There is no single solution that is going to make every day sunny.

I think this quote on my January 20 date page from this not so famous person gives us the way to go.   

        “How does one become a butterfly?” she asked pensively.  “You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.”  Trina Paulus 

You can’t continue to be a caterpillar.  You know that things must change.  If you want to make the changes, it you want to fly, then give Friday Morning a call.  We can come in and offer actionable insights into an important step you can take right now. We call it Your First Best Thing.™

Resolving to get along more harmoniously

By Bruce Nicoll 

A very happy new year to all our readers! This is a time when, traditionally, we set our goals and also try to be sympathetic to the needs of others, making more of an effort to get along with our fellow men (and women, too, of course!) A time to put conflict aside and move forward in a spirit of optimistic cooperation. 

Well, here’s a thought. What if this attitude was applied to the creative process in formulating effective pharmaceutical promotion? I’m talking about aligning the often  competing (if not actively conflicting) agendas of the various stakeholders that influence the direction, tone, and content of advertising (I’m using that term loosely here, as a collective noun for all things promotional from web sites to sales aids to sample cards). What if we could all just get along? What if we could put our own concerns second, and focus on patient outcomes first? What would that process look like, and what might it reap? 

This is something we at Friday Morning have given serious consideration. While most agencies are predominantly focused on overcoming the external barriers to brand success, it appears that sometimes a client’s internal processes are more detrimental to articulation and expansion of their brand values than anything the competition is saying. There’s no doubt that marketers are working harder, and it is absolutely our experience that agencies are more motivated and conscientious than ever, and yet much of the work that gets to see the light of day does no justice to the effort that has gone into its production. Not always, of course; there are some stunning campaigns out there that are getting the business done and generating sales, but, increasingly, these seem to be the exceptions. 

Most advertisements appearing in the journals, and much of the sales material that gets entered into award shows (which is pretty much the only material that other agencies get to see), doesn’t do a good job of making the potential benefits for a physician’s patients clear. We are convinced that the consequence of this ambiguity is that many patients who could benefit from a particular therapy don’t get it, because that patient’s physician has not really been made aware of the good the drug might do. 

Can agencies facilitate getting everyone on the same page? Our SAFARI process is designed to enhance the effectiveness and cohesion of any clients’ internal-team dynamics. We help the marketing department be more successful at getting powerful work approved in a risk averse climate by aligning conflicting agendas around patient outcomes. Let us help you make 2010 a year where everyone cooperates internally and patients out there in the world get better because of it. Now, that’s a resolution we can all get behind!

Tis’ the season
December 23, 2009, 6:50 pm
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Happy Holidays! 

This week was my birthday and my wife and kids planned a dinner party for our close friends.  You might think that the celebration of a birthday is overshadowed by the holidays but it certainly is not the case for me.  Everyone was in a party mood, ready to enjoy the holidays. The season set the mood and my party was fun.  Everyone had a good time.  Enjoyment of friends and family is what the holidays are all about. 

It has been a challenging year but as we approach year end with a new decade in sight I am filled with hope for our business, our industry and our world.  To try to address some pressing issues facing the industry, we made some important changes in our business this year.  We would love to talk with you about solutions, so contact us after the holidays and maybe we can help with some new year’s resolutions. 

For some fun take a look at our holiday e-card.   I hope you all have a wonderful holiday, one that you celebrate with your friends and family. 

Be jolly!!

Be seen. Advertise!

Call me old fashioned, but I still subscribe to the local paper. I don’t often read it, I’ll admit, because I get most of my news online, but I believe it is important to support the activity of journalism. (Should it ever become necessary, I’d be happy to pay a subscription to the news sites I rely on for keeping up to date as well, by the way, so I guess I really am old fashioned!) Anyway, as always happens at this time of year, the number of sales flyers stuffed into the paper seems to increase exponentially by the day. A great, slippery slab of glossy printed pages, all hoping to attract my attention and discretionary dollars. And without fail, the entire stack gets relegated, sight unseen, to the recycling bin, before the paper even makes it from the driveway through the garage and into my home. I’m pretty sure this scenario is repeated by the vast majority of subscribers, including the very people who have spent both time making the countless decisions reflected in the content of each flyer as well as the money to design, print, and distribute them. That’s the power of conventional wisdom winning out over the evidence before one’s eyes. 

Conventional wisdom also has it that journal advertising “doesn’t work anymore.” We’re not sure where this came from, because it isn’t supported by research. Surveys of physician attitudes to journal advertising generally reveal that the medium, when used effectively, is still one that physicians rely on to learn about both the availability of new drugs, and the ongoing benefits of brands that they perhaps are already aware of, but appreciate being reminded about.   We used advertising to alert you to Friday Morning, offering A New Approach to Yes!

This is a viewpoint supported both by our own informal surveys and one based on measurable, statistically defensible test results that have generated an ample trove of supporting evidence. The Palshaw Measurement is perhaps the most impressive example of this, not least for its longevity.

Using the Palshaw Measure, norms that were first established in 1968 have steadily improved over almost 4 decades. That is a depth of experience that should surely trump conventional wisdom, but only a few marketers are taking advantage of it. Over almost forty years, this test has shown a steady increase in both physicians’ interest in stopping and reading advertisements in the journals, and their self-reported likelihood of being persuaded to prescribe the brands featured in these ads as well. 

The Palshaw organization summed up its findings by saying that medical journal advertising continues to be validated as one of the key communication channels on which physicians rely for information on prescription products.

And yet, strange as it may seem, while medical journal advertising has been getting better and better…more imaginative, more innovative, more creative and more on target in its content, investments in medical journal advertising have been shrinking—at the same time that per ad quality is reaching its highest level of effectiveness ever! 

If you’re thinking about how to make your marketing budget work more effectively for you in 2010, the right ad could work wonders. Of course, making sure your ad is “right” is a science all of its own! There is also ample evidence that what used to work really well can now have a completely counterproductive effect. We can help you get to grips with these issues. Give us a call at 1.800.234.8770.