The Pharma Report: Make it meaningful

Solving real needs with a message that resonates - that's CloudRaker's formula for break-out pharma
CloudRaker needed to create honest conversations with potential patients about immuno-therapy; an advanced treatment that uses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. They delivered a relatable educational portal that was both supportive and hopeful – but also empowering, encouraging cancer patients to take an active role in their treatment and explore immuno-therapy as a treatment option.

To foster conversations about immuno-therapy, CloudRaker delivered a supportive educational portal that empowers cancer patients to take an active role in their treatment and explore this advanced option that uses the body’s immune system.

CloudRaker might be one year shy of its 20th anniversary, but it’s not ever likely to rest on its laurels. Case in point: the agency’s now expansive pharma practice.

The agency’s roots in the category go back three years, when they were asked to join a digital AOR RFP by pharma giant Merck – specifically because they weren’t a familiar face in the field at the time.

The client came to them, recalls founder/CEO Thane Calder, saying “we think the world’s changing around us, and we need to engage with people – whether they’re health care professionals or patients – like humans, like people.’”

With sales reps not seeing customers face-to-face, how could brands connect? CloudRaker developed the Primary Care e-congress for Merck – a week-long series of live webcasts touching on issues such as treating and teaching during Covid-19, creating a multichannel digital campaign to assemble an audience of health care professionals across Canada.

With Merck sales reps not seeing customers face-to-face, CloudRaker developed a live webcast series touching on issues like treating and teaching during Covid-19, to assemble an audience of health care professionals across Canada.

So, while the 60-person Montreal-based agency might not have had a rolodex full of pharma clients at the time, they did have both the approach and the voice the client was looking for.

That initial work has led to the creation of an entire pharma division, rooted in creative that’s informed by strategic thinking and tailored to the needs of stakeholders.

CloudRaker executive director, pharma Joyce Thuss and CEO Thane Calder in the agency's Montreal office.

CloudRaker executive director, pharma Joyce Thuss and CEO Thane Calder in the agency’s Montreal office.

“Our whole essence as a team is ‘do meaningful commerce,’” says Calder. “Make things people want. We always talk about the end user – are we adding value? Whether it’s communications or digital experiences, we always try and keep that in the forefront. So, we jumped on the pitch and won.”

It all comes down to the CloudRaker DNA, instilled back in the days when they were primarily a digital shop – work fast, work agile, react faster.

“Our clients want to adopt those same principles,” notes executive director, Pharma Joyce Thuss. “With sprint and agile methodology, you’re always talking about how to bring incremental value to go-to-market-faster strategies. What is it that the end user really needs?”

Thuss says that, even before COVID limited channels, CloudRaker always looked for purpose-driven connection strategies. “Our customers are busy treating patients all day long, we have to be able to disseminate material when they’re more likely to be highly engaged.”While CloudRaker may have begun in digital, it now offers a full 360-degree solution for clients, to deliver DTC, patient and HCP content where it will have the most impact.

Ultimately, it’s less about the channel and more about the message. Resonance is key. “Let’s be honest, people don’t want marketing in their lives,” observes Calder. “So, let’s all remember that when we’re crafting campaigns, we have to be very mindful that we’re participating in someone’s life. We have to respect that.”

And it’s not always during the best moments of their life, either – it might be when they’re facing a new diagnosis. Consider the work CloudRaker recently did on an unbranded HPV awareness campaign for Merck. HPV is one of the leading causes of cervical cancer in Canada. To combat that, the “You don’t always know” digital campaign used native, social, mobile and digital OOH in a data-fuelled program that targeted based on behaviour and interests, which delivered 154 million impressions, 500,000 clicks and 8,250,000 video completions.

Last December, CloudRaker filmed cervical cancer survivors, sharing their personal journeys. “We were using testimonials to create cervical cancer awareness,” recalls Thuss, “and to highlight the fact that it could be prevented with a vaccine. It was amazing to talk to these women – and it’s not just going to help sell a brand, but it’s going to help change the course of the disease.”

CloudRaker made it easy for Merck to tell an empowering story to its diabetes patients. Given the fact that patient engagement in this category is traditionally low, content was developed to inform, empower and motivate the reader by making lifestyle changes as achievable as possible, outlining realistic goals for the specific audience.

When Merck wanted to amp up efforts to motivate diabetes patients to make healthy lifestyle choices, CloudRaker designed content to make change seem more achievable, by outlining realistic goals.

That authentic, personal approach has been key to the success of other CloudRaker pharma campaigns as well. For Keytruda, it was about creating hope-driven assets and conversation starters so doctors and patients could openly talk about cancer and immunotherapy. For AbbVie Care, CloudRaker found ways to meaningfully engage patients with chronic, long-term conditions. And to tackle a longstanding challenge, the agency came up with ‘Unbranded’ brand guidelines for Merck, a framework for discourse with Type 2 Diabetes patients who can be hard to engage as the condition is often brought about by personal habits.

“We treat each problem like it’s unique,” says Thuss. “Especially in the pharma space, consumers want brands to be authentic, and that’s really giving us an opportunity to be bolder and move away from traditional approaches.”

Joyce Thuss
Executive Director, Pharma