Henry Ford once commented that if he had asked his customers what they wanted, they’d have told him to make me a faster horse. We adopt a more subdued tone but are also firm believers in the premium offered by original thinking. Of course, when you stumble on that dream idea, it’s vital to remember that the clever bit is optimising it to its fullest potential.
And so we have been monitoring an idea pioneered by the marketing department at Burger King in Spain. They pinpointed the persistent popularity amongst footballers celebrating goals by pulling their jerseys over their heads. The practice was 'invented' in the 1990's by silver-haired Italian striker Fabrizio Ravenelli. And so when Burger King agreed a one-year sponsorship with a side in Spain's top league, they cleverly negotiated printing a second logo inside the team's shirts. A two-for-one, if we're to borrow a phrase from community pharmacy.
I hate my washing machine. It’s reliable, boasts a worthy energy rating and is excellent for cleaning clothes. But no-one at the shop told me this little appliance would spend its entire life nagging me to empty it at the end of every cycle. It doesn’t help that its escalating reminder is one of the most annoying high-pitched beeps known to man. Forgive me then if I roll my eyes skyward as I deliver news that researchers in the US are now testing nagging pill bottles. The ‘GlowCap’ (pictured) is a high-tech top that fits on to a standard pill container and emits a pulsing orange light when it’s time to take your medicine. That’s clever enough, but what happens if you ignore that reminder is pretty astonishing.
Here’s some food for thought for anyone considering a celebrity spokesperson for an awareness campaign or a well known face for a PR photo shoot: business leaders are more persuasive than athletes, movie stars or musicians.
According to a Harris Interactive poll of more than 2,000 adults, 37% of consumers find famous business leaders to be most persuasive as product endorsers. Naturally, politicians came in last with just 10% of respondents ranking them most persuasive. Fourteen percent said singers or musicians were most persuasive while 18% cited television or film stars and a healthy 21% said athletes were tops for product plugs.
A recent survey by a recruitment agency (who else) has suggested that doctors and nurses are the sexiest professions. Most people admitted they would date people on their jobs with doctors closely followed amongst women respondents by pilots, firemen and, er, lawyers. The lads also aimed high placing nurses top of their wish list followed by dancers, air hostesses and secretaries. Refuse collectors were least popular amongst women while men said they’d never date a glamour model.
Speaking of glamorous, attractive doctors, has anyone spotted ‘Dr Brenda’ staring out from advertisements for newly-built homes in Portlaoise? A full-page spread quotes the medic telling would-be homeowners of her joy on purchasing a three-bedroom gaffe in the town’s Bellingham development.“There’s a long list of beautiful features to choose from,” says Brenda, who is naturally wearing her white coat and stethoscope. ‘Close examination has proved me right’ was the headline writer’s play on words.
Where have Irish companies been going to source new staff? The answer, of course, is other pharma companies. A witty consultant once observed two rival product managers becoming over-friendly in a social setting at a US cardiology event some years back and coined the phrase ‘medical inter-pollination’. And such trans-company attractions hold true in the employment setting as well. But at least Ireland’s not alone in what some might argue is a rather lazy and unimaginative approach to sourcing new talent. A very recent survey in the US found that 91 per cent of companies there would target other pharma company employees when seeking new staff – in this instance, medical sales reps. More than 83 per cent of responders valued pharma sales experience more than interpersonal skills or business acumen.
The mediacontact.ie website informs me that TG4 programme, Feirm Factor, is back for a second series. The reality show aims to track down Ireland's top farmer. Hosted by Maura Derrane, the programme will pit 15 of Ireland's most talented farmers against one another to see who is an outstanding factor in this field (groan) of employment. I’m told it’s like the X-Factor meets One Man and his Dog, mashing the well worn formats of reality TV into a farm yard setting. The prize is a Range Rover, although the winner should be advised he may have to sell the lower field to pay its annual motor tax and fuel bills.
The problems associated with hospital waiting lists are certain to become ever more acute as our economy continues its winding journey down the financial toilet. Only the Greeks appear to be in worse shape, which I’m honest enough to admit is at least some comfort. A recent study by Transparency International cast light on how some Greeks deal with getting a loved one much-needed treatment. They bribe their way in.
Ok, let’s talk about a harsh truth. Dozens of surveys (and quite a few films) have consistently indicated that the pharma sector is not widely trusted by the general public. Several factors are at play here – think Vioxx, Primetime investigations that showing doctors at rugby matches in France, regular drug withdrawals on safety grounds and widely held misgivings about large companies and the pursuit of profit within the realm of an individual’s health. That said, dubbing the sector ‘Big Pharma’ always hit a discordant note with this writer. After all, the only other business to get such a sobriquet is Big Tobacco. Their products give people cancer, and death. Pharma’s products fight cancer and save lives. Odd bedfellows, no?
Hospital managers have been guarding their drug budgets with the tenacity of pit-bulls of late, much to the woe of some patients seeking certain treatments. It’s a shame they aren’t quite as motivated on trimming back other expenditure – such as reducing staff sick day bills and increasing productivity – but them’s the breaks.
Under-pressure hospitals in the UK have come up with an intriguing funding solution that, thankfully, we’re likely to be spared. Companies in Ireland have long been battling the problem of cheap parallel imports but I’ll bet you never thought that institutions such as The Royal Surrey County Hospital were among those involved in the trade?
How many readers have had their product offering unfairly criticized in the media but let the issue slide because of the nagging feeling that arguing the toss with journalists – who always have the last word – would do more harm than good. It’s an understandable and tempting reaction…but it’s not always the correct response. Dealing with adverse media commentary on a case-by-case basis is cleverer than a hard and fast rule as a sweet little PR hit by Ryanair recently demonstrated.