Archive for May, 2014

Publi-com: the whole was less than the sum of its parts

publicom3The dissolution of the Publicis/Omnicom merger
(or was it the Omnicom/Publicis merger?) provides a helpful cautionary tale for all of us. The moral of the story is not that you should decide your CFO or your merger documents before you make the announcement. More fundamentally it’s a question of who your most important stakeholder is.

For many years I taught a business school class on CRM, and one of my observations was that the center of gravity for successful entrepreneurial companies was always the customer. No customer value, no company. But as firms got larger, the center of gravity gradually moved internal because of the many pressing organizational needs. Mergers and acquisitions are particularly distracting, to the point that many corporate managers never even interact with customers. Read Full Article Now »

Is pharma doubling down on TV? Really?

The data is out on consumer ad spending in 2013. It wasn’t a surprise that TV and magazine ad spending was down significantly while digital spend was up. If you own a TV network, you can’t ignore the handwriting on the wall. You feel the pain.TV.jpg

Unless you are selling to pharma.

It appears that pharma is trying to single-handedly bail out traditional media. Pharma’s TV ad spending was up more than 12% last year, and magazines were up more than 6%. And digital? The channel to which every other industry is moving their spend?

For pharma, digital spend was down more than 14%…

The total pharma DTC spend last year was $3.8 billion, and of that, it spent about $60 million on digital ads last year. That doesn’t even qualify as a rounding error. Of the top 20 pharma brands, 16 didn’t even spend more than $1MM on digital advertising.

I’m left scratching my head. Why the heck is pharma bucking the global trend to digital? Does it know something the rest of us have missed?

I have a couple thoughts on this trend. First, I have to give props to TV and magazine sales executives. Obviously, they haven’t surrendered to digital, at least among their pharma clients. They make the argument that cable TV allows for better targeting, an attractive argument for brands that are trying to reach a mass audience.

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Achieving Escape Velocity from Pharma Corporate Inertia

After a few recent client meetings I’ve begun to reflect not just about the challenges facing pharma, but the nature of those challenges. More specifically, I wonder if they reflect normal cyclical ups and downs or the impact of social and political evolution? Or do they represent a secular change?

I happen to believe we’re at the cusp of a secular change in pharma, one of those major paradigm shifts in an industry that only happens once every 10 or 20 years, or once every generation. A shift in which the industry will experience a major transformation. Retail is going through a change like this, energy is in the middle of transformational change, and I think this is also happening to pharma right now. No political or regulatory or scientific shifts will bring back the good old days of pharma.

escape velocity

Impact of Secular Change
Jim Collins has written extensively about what happens when massive change hits an industry. When it all shakes out, there are a handful of companies that are the undisputed leaders, while the majority simply meander in the middle of the bell curve.

We don’t need to recite here the product, access and margin pressures our industry faces – everybody knows that the power center is shifting. The real question now is, how do we control, channel and predict that change? Or do we just let it happen to ourselves?

Many people that I talk to within pharma are pretty discouraged, because they feel like their companies are slow and morbid and there’s too much inertia to really make change happen. Yet, when I talk to people at the most senior levels, they do want to make change happen, but feel constrained by the mid- and lower levels. Oftentimes, when the senior level tries to make change happen, the people at the mid- and lower levels dig in their heels. It’s reminiscent of when politicians try to make significant changes and the civil servants respond, “Well, he’ll only be around for a few years, and then we’ll go back to business as usual.” In some ways, that attitude prevails in pharma.

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