The pharma report: Hyper-collaboration and a passion for adding value

Tank Worldwide's rule-breaking creative approach looks to beat back 'infobesity'
Tank Worldwide created a video for GSK that amplified the messages of awareness campaigns about shingles and whooping cough.

Tank Worldwide created a video for GSK that amplified the messages of awareness campaigns about shingles and whooping cough.

With offices in Montreal, Toronto, New York and London – and more on the way – Tank Worldwide is rapidly expanding, especially in the U.S., where the agency is doing considerable direct-to-consumer work.

“But we’re still focused and loyal to our Canadian business,” says Thomas Lecordier, SVP, managing director, Health. “Our business model is Canada plus the rest of the world.”

The comedic tone of this campaign for GSK is rarely seen in the pharma landscape, showing the shingles rash in a way that is shocking and yet not repulsive.

The comedic tone of this campaign for GSK is rarely seen in the pharma landscape, showing the shingles rash in a way that is shocking and yet not repulsive.

Founded in 2007, Tank Worldwide was bought in 2016 by Grey Group, a subsidiary of WPP. Tank shares clients and best practices within the Grey Group network but operates as a separate entity. Tank’s staff of 300 works with clients including AbbVie, BMS, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen, Otsuka, Pfizer and Viatris. In October, Tank landed molecular diagnostics company Cepheid, for which it will develop new corporate positioning and a global brand campaign.

According to Lecordier, three elements give Tank the competitive advantage that’s driving growth.

First, there’s the talent they recruit and retain.

“We have a balance of senior resources – many with experience at pharmaceutical companies – and more junior resources throughout the life cycle of a project,” Lecordier says. “With the pressure on costs, many agencies just put junior people on tasks.

Our senior people don’t disappear after the pitch.”

Secondly, there’s the agency’s focus on what he calls “hypercollaboration.” Tank employs a proprietary online tool called ThinkTank that allows everyone at both client and agency to have a voice throughout the creative process. Every

ThinkTank is bespoke, starting with a deep dive into the client’s business to identify challenges and culminating in an explosion of ideas that yield sometimes unexpected results.

“It helps clients create that strategic alignment they so desperately need,” he says.

The third element is the team’s commitment to go beyond simply pushing a message. It is committed to creating value for customers, whether they be healthcare providers (HCPs), patients or consumers.

“We say to clients, ‘The times of just pushing the efficacy or safety message are over. You need interactive tools, you need engagement – that is what’s going to make a difference,’” Lecordier says.

This DTC campaign contributed to the sale of 1.5 million doses of Shingrix in 2020, with the DTC ROI at 364%. This COVID-19 optimization helped the campaign adapt to the pandemic context

This DTC campaign contributed to the sale of 1.5 million doses of Shingrix in 2020, with the DTC ROI at 364%. This COVID-19 optimization helped the campaign adapt to the pandemic context.

Approximately 75% of Tank’s Health business involves marketing to HCPs, and the rest to patients and consumers. Marketing to the latter groups has become more demanding as the pandemic has exacerbated the trend of people heading to “Dr. Google” with their health questions.

“It’s a huge challenge for healthcare professionals because patients feel they’re more knowledgeable, but sometimes they get information from sources that are not trustworthy,” Lecordier says.

It’s a phenomenon he calls “infobesity”: too much unqualified health information competing for consumers’ attention. The challenge for pharma companies is to break through that clutter by creating superior engagement and value for patients.

Pre-market testing for this unique campaign for GSK showed great breakthrough and action intent, according to Tank Worldwide, which hopes for the same response in market

Pre-market testing for this unique campaign for GSK showed great breakthrough and action intent, according to Tank Worldwide, which hopes for the same response in market.

“If you’re developing an online tool, it has to be more interactive,” he says. “Campaigns need to be more friendly from the look and feel and perspective.”

He gives the example of a recent disease-awareness campaign about whooping cough for GSK. Using vibrant animation and a candy-coloured palette, the campaign takes on the misconception that it’s a disease that afflicts only children, pointing out that pool floaties, ice cream and roller coasters aren’t just for kids, either.

Designed to look like a travel spot, this campaign for GSK looks to help travellers understand the benefits of seeking advice about health risks and prevention measures.

Designed to look like a travel spot, this campaign for GSK looks to help travellers understand the benefits of seeking advice about health risks and prevention measures.

“It breaks all the codes of pharma,” he says. “It’s bright and colourful, and there’s lots of pictograms. When you grab attention, and the science behind it is amazing, then you get that optimal sort of engagement.”

Due to COVID-19 there has been a move towards more marketing automation, especially relevant when marketing to HCPs. He gives the example of an HCP looking up the efficacy data for a product. With automation, that act can trigger additional emails with related information without human intervention.

“For most of our clients it’s been a drastic transformation,” Lecordier says. “A lot of pharma companies are asking, ‘How do we put this in place in a cost-effective way?’”

Lecordier references a recent report from Sermo – a private social media network for HCPs – that anticipates a combination of human and digital interaction post-COVID-19 and suggests marketers “build a personalized digital approach that aligns with physicians’ needs and evolving preferences.”

Wherever Tank’s growth may lead, the overarching “red thread” of its philosophy will remain its human approach. “This gives us an amazing opportunity to bring value to clients,” Lecordier says, “because our goal is to help them navigate this increasingly digital world.”

CONTACT:
Thomas Lecordier
SVP, managing director, Health
thomas.lecordier@tankww.com

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