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Pharmaceutical Creative Process

Lawrence D. Tobias

Increase direct-to-consumer Advertising Case


A northeastern pharmaceutical client is considering increasing its direct-to-consumer advertising program for its next budget cycle. Upper management is concerned over potential conflicts with physicians regarding such an expansion. Before approving such an increase, management needs to be assured that physicians will not react negatively towards their latest DTC program and not view such a program as potentially interfering with what they may view as their decision-making process.

Creative approach

The facility is set up to resemble a typical physician office with waiting area, receptionist and examination/treatment area. Potential patients are provided with DTC information just prior to their admittance and provided with a script that indicates the disease for which they are receiving treatment that relates directly to the DTC information provided. They then seek treatment by the participating physician and attempt to incorporate the DTC information received into the conversation. After the interaction the moderator debriefs both the physician and the patient first alone and then together. Physician and patient then view the DTC information again and suggest particular areas for revision.

Client reaction

Based on information received during the qualitative research, client and their ad agency provide significant enhancements to their current DTC advertising which are targeted towards increasing the educational content for the patient while minimizing any potential negative reaction from the physician.


The client’s enhanced DTC advertising program proceeds on schedule with an increased budget and results in significant market expansion for both the overall product category and the client’s brand.


In summary, an integrated approach to creative qualitative research does provide advantages relative to more traditional approaches. In addition to utilization of a variety of creative research techniques, flexibility in the creative environment as provided in the research facility is a key component of an effective integrated creative approach and in reality actually complements in a synergistic manner the overall creative process.


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