Disruptive Multimedia: New Options Merge On- and Offline Worlds
We divide the world in a lot of ways. Black or white? Coffee or tea? Liberal or conservative? Taxonomies help us understand the world, the people in it and our place in it.
A lot of old divisions are fast becoming false dichotomies, though. Many of them appear in our work lives as marketing communications professionals. Online or offline? Print or broadcast? Digital or analog? The truth is, the marcomm universe today is less about separate spheres, and more like a pile of Venn diagrams — a world of overlapping bubbles where the combinations are myriad.
WHY WORRY ABOUT OFFLINE TACTICS ANYMORE? WHY NOT JUST FOCUS ON DIGITAL?
Some marketing efforts are doing away with analog materials altogether. There’s a logic to it. Digital methods are increasingly more cost-effective (as the cost drops close to $100 for tablets, they’re even being used as giveaways) and have tremendous creative potential. However, ONLY thinking of digital tactics and ignoring what offline can offer may be throwing the baby away with the bath water.
Analog marketing communications — from brochures to telephone calls, posters to billboards, TV show placements to radio ads — still have some advantages. Today, perhaps one of their biggest, but least-considered, bonuses is simply that they’re not digital. If you can pull eyes off screens and get your targets to face your messaging in the real world that can have a much greater impact than an online-only experience. It’s a gamble, though. Can you create something disruptive enough to get your audience to disengage from their devices?
Some brands are managing that, and they’re doing it by ignoring those old dichotomies. They’re remixing tactics to leverage the dynamics of digital in offline spaces. They’re bringing interactivity to tactics that were once static, using multimedia to disrupt and engage.
WHERE IS THIS WORKING?
We think these examples are best viewed in their entirety. Review the summaries and be sure to click on the images to view examples of brands creating these disruptive analog/digital hybrids:
- Movie previews + text messaging: Volkswagen used a movie theatre preview to show a PSA on the dangers of driving while texting — sending a location-based text to everyone in the theatre and causing the onscreen driver to crash when the audience was looking down at their phones.
Billboards + live video: Victoria’s Secret took over a digital billboard in London’s Victoria Station and hid a live operator who paired the actions of passers-by on camera with those of an onscreen Victoria’s Secret model. Of course, not only the person on screen, but those around, engaged with the experience, intrigued as the person and the “Angel” interacted.
Britain’s National Centre for Domestic Violence created a similar campaign in London’s Euston Station, in which billboard viewers used their phones to drag an abuser away from a victim of domestic violence, moving the abuser throughout screens in the train station.
Tablets + tabletop games: Osmo is a new toy that enables an iPad® and its camera to watch and interact with activities like moving puzzle pieces or drawing. Kids have to act on tangible, real-world objects to have an effect on the tablet-based game. Companies like zSpace are taking that same technology to use in physician education.
“Yeah, but … “
This is where our pharmaceutical-industry skepticism reliably switches on.
Yeah, but … This is where our pharmaceutical-industry skepticism reliably switches on.
Those are nice ideas, that skeptical voice says. But come on. How is that applicable for me? Are there actual possibilities for pharma? Would legal and regulatory allow us to do any of this? And even if they did, would we really see ROI besides maybe some award?
These are smart questions. Let’s look into them.
WHICH PROGRAMS CAN BENEFIT FROM A DISRUPTIVE MULTIMEDIA APPROACH?
- Visualizing complex science: Describing the mechanism of action of a drug can take volumes of words. An interactive MOA video can educate physicians far more effectively and efficiently.
- Connecting on an emotional level: While text-based narrative can have a strong impact, it requires time and attention, two things it’s not always safe to assume you have. Multimedia is excellent for rapidly conveying an emotional message, particularly with the additional immersive punch of 3-D and virtual reality (VR). And, as noted above, seeing messaging live, rather than on a screen, makes that impact stronger. It’s harder to intellectualize something that’s physically present.
Real-world example: Your brand treats a skin condition such as acne or psoriasis. Institute a campaign at bus shelters in which mirrors respond to the faces of passers-by, briefly altering reflections to show people what it feels like to experience some of the condition’s embarrassing effects. This increases awareness of the condition and its psychosocial ramifications, and patients get a tangible demonstration that your brand values their struggles.
WHERE CAN DISRUPTIVE MULTIMEDIA MAKE A DIFFERENCE FOR PHARMA?
- Patient education: Virtual reality headsets like Oculist Rift are being used to simulate experiences for a variety of users — even engaging elderly veterans who served as military pilots. Giving patients a multi-sensory experience can help them cognitively and emotionally connect with information.
- Physician outreach: Physicians are on their feet, pressed for time and pulled in a million directions. Half of them use tablets already and are accustomed to handheld, portable, interactive interfaces. While restrictions on gift-giving often preclude providing devices, companies that create video brochures like V-Gen, iKyp or Americhip make it possible to provide that experience in a compliant manner.
Real-world example: Phase IV data on your brand is being presented at an international medical meeting held at the convention center in a city center. To get the attention of physicians attending the meeting, traditional tactics might include advertising on taxicabs and buses in the part of the city near the convention center. A disruptive approach takes a tactic like this to the next level by incorporating digital features. Make those public transportation ads location- and time-sensitive, changing design and messaging as the convention center gets closer and as the data is presented.
HOW DO YOU MEASURE ROI?
One of the excellent things about a hybrid digital/analog approach is that you can use measurement tactics from both schools — or go on your own.
- Leverage digital capabilities: From retinal tracking to location tracking, digital offers possibilities of measuring audience behavior that Mad Men only dreamed of.
- Use tried-and-true analog measurements: From Nielsen ratings to ad multipliers, there are decades of research on how best to quantify marketing communications.
- Stop tracking the tactics and focus on results: While it can be useful to determine who viewed your messaging or for how long, what really matters is what they did afterward. Develop your campaign with a specific call-to-action that directly affects brand goals and measure that.
WHAT MIGHT BE SOME HURDLES?
There are a couple of concerns that arise almost automatically when you consider developing new ways of approaching pharmaceutical marketing communications.
- Humor: Pharma is traditionally hesitant to take a lighthearted approach because what we do is important and often requires a lot of gravity. However, as a study published last month in Circulation found, humor has its place (in this case, added to physician education). There’s a way to be funny without being flippant.
- Novelty: The pharmaceutical industry is known for being conservative, and untried methods to deliver messaging are often met with hesitancy. Using elements of traditional marketing communication vehicles is actually an excellent solution to this worry, providing precedent.
WHAT DOES DISRUPTIVE MULTIMEDIA MEAN FOR YOU TODAY?
Disruptive multimedia is simply the idea that you don’t have to decide between traditional and digital marketing communications — that, in fact, if you take the best parts of each, you can develop even more effective campaigns. We believe this is true and that hybrid approaches are often the most powerful. We’d love to discuss it further: tweet us at @intouchsol.