Thursday, May 29, 2008

Crohn's and Me: An example of Pharma breaking into Web 2.0

The following is an analysis of UCB Pharma's unbranded campaign, Crohn's and Me, written by Jess DiPaolo in February, prior to the approval of Cizmia UCB's treatment for Crohn's disease:

The following site is an example of pharma attempting to break into Web 2.0, and to initiate an unbranded campaign where it may not be intuitive to do so:

The site is sponsored by UCB Pharma, though you can barely find their name at the bottom of the page (and it’s without their logo). UCB is seeking approval for Cimzia, a biologic treatment for Crohn’s Disease. In the meantime, they’ve launched this “Crohns and Me” effort both online and using a community-based “tour” to build their community and drive prospect enrollment.

Points of Interest

  • Helps UCB grow their prospective user base, especially as their launch has been pushed out a bit due to more info needed by the FDA. Enrollment data are related to disease, treatment history, communication channel preference, the level at which patients rely on their physicians for treatment decisions, and how much information about new treatments that person is interested in receiving. If UCB uses all of this, their post-launch communications could be really well targeted.

  • Uses a nice integration of online and offline; there are in-office brochures, the online site, and a community “tour” to further the sense of community, as well as create that “buzz” or sense that something big is going on. The program includes professionals, patients, spouses and parents, etc. The patient experience is at the core of this whole campaign, which makes it feel that much more authentic.

  • The site has user-friendly navigation with patient-friendly categories (i.e. “Live With It”, “The Scoop”). Testimonials are varied, and are woven throughout the site, often to support the information on a given page. (E.G., When describing a piece of legislation, the young girl whose experience spawned the Act tells her story; this is followed with calls to action that help letter writing.)
  • Site visitors can “preview” testimonials, but only get full access when registering with the site. There are no online blogs, just access to the full “community”; so not true Web 2.0, but feels a little like it, especially given the patient-centric tone of the site. The testimonials often link to third-party sites that are relevant to that person’s life (i.e. there is a comic who has his own website, another person shares their link to their myspace page, one of the people was shown on Punk’d, so there is a link to that MTV-sponsored site).

  • You can view some of the community tour, and you have multiple viewing and download options (video, video podcast, audio podcast).

  • There are a lot of community-related activities you can learn about, which again makes it feel like more is going on (scholarship contest, fundraising bike tour, etc.)

  • Again, the info collected at enrollment is good, and probably not too cumbersome for this audience given that they skew younger. Also, probably easier to collect a lot of this in an unbranded setting, where site visitors are less skeptical about the reasons it’s being collected.

  • The look and feel of this site is so much different than that offered by the main advocacy organization, ccfa, which feels much more traditional, as well as some of the other branded and unbranded sites. It’s a good blend of information validity with genuine patient experience. (Other sites can go the other extreme, and give a patient-friendly yet less than trustworthy feel regarding the information shared.)

It’s still a far cry from genuine Web 2.0 applications, but it looks like there has been some effort in that direction-and certainly more freedom to do this given that it’s unbranded.

I am interested to see how UCB converts this to a branded initiative once Cimzia receives a Crohn’s indication. In spite of some of the reasons that might steer them away from a pre-launch, unbranded campaign (crowded category, late-entry), there is clearly some rationale for pursuing this (creating a more robust prospect list, prepping a vocal community to prepare for a new tx option).

There are definitely things here that could be improved upon, particularly with some of the web execution (downloadable “tracker”, some sections including relatively static tips and resources), but overall I thought it was a noteworthy effort.

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