Matthew Dickinson

The Significance of ‘The Idea’ in Pharma Marketing

Insights category icon Insights
Strategy category icon Strategy

by Matthew | 20 Aug Read Time4 min

Matthew Dickinson, Managing Director of Dice, is an Economics graduate of Melbourne University, and entered the world of consumer advertising in Australia - working for global agencies DDB and Ogilvy. His experience drives Dice to deliver the best possible work for clients.


The concept of the ‘Big Idea’ isn’t a new one, but it still holds as much weight now as it did when first used by the likes of David Ogilvy and George Lois. 

To quote Ogilvy;

“It takes a big idea to attract the attention of consumers and get them to buy your product. Unless your advertising contains a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night.”

While some may argue that the ‘idea’ is less important in an age where consumers are exposed to innumerable forms of media, there’s a stronger argument that says the advent of digital makes the ‘idea’ more important than ever.

Idea first, execution second

It can be easy for a brand – whether in pharmaceuticals or any industry – to jump at the opportunity to harness cutting-edge technology such as virtual reality (VR), in an effort to enhance its marketing. 

Similarly, an agency that offers multiple services yet specialises in one discipline – for example, social media or email marketing – may naturally veer towards its ‘comfort zone’ when devising a strategy for clients. 

However, discussing tactics before nailing an overarching campaign message or ‘idea’ is the definition of a back-to-front approach. 

Yes, VR is really cool, but unless you have a great idea that VR can help bring to life, it will be a significant waste of marketing spend. The worst thing you could do is put out something average that doesn’t land with your audience. 

You’ll immediately be on the backfoot, which is not where you want to be in an age when first impressions are everything.

The DNA of a good idea

At its core, a good idea is one that resonates with the end user, builds a brand and solves the problem that it was created to solve. 

It’s the overarching message that all elements of a campaign should hang off, and should be easily communicated across multiple channels. In essence, it’s the glue that holds a campaign together – without it, the whole thing falls apart. 

The success of an idea relies on investment from all stakeholders – the brand, the agency and, of course, the customer. As such, alignment on campaign objectives and target audience is essential before the ideation process can begin. 

In the name of keeping things simple, a successful idea tends to comprise three key elements. 

Impactful insight

A compelling insight is one that uncovers an unequivocal truth for the customer, or a problem that needs solving. In the pharma marketing world, insights could be anything from a challenge faced by patients with a certain condition, to new data that demonstrates a change in the therapeutic sentiment. 

It can take extensive research to find an insight that resonates with customers – HCPs or patients – but the investment of time will be worth it for the sake of a successful campaign. 

Brand Connection

An insight is only powerful if a brand can offer a genuine solution to the problem it uncovered. Provided the initial research took account of a brand’s industry, positioning and target audience, there should be a clear correlation between its product and the insight. 

Clear Articulation

The final test of an idea’s strength is whether the insight and brand connection can be distilled clearly and succinctly into a single page – or preferably a sentence. Consider the initial strapline for the iPod: “Say hello to iPod. 1,000 songs in your pocket”. This later evolved into “60 million songs. On your wrist” for an Apple Watch campaign. 

In less than ten words, Apple communicated how it helps people access their music library while on the move. It was also a message that could be successfully executed across all channels, both online and offline. 

Helping you find your idea

At Dice, we always like to remind our clients that how they talk about their brand is just as important as where they talk about it.

Our Pharmacohesion® process is the epitome of an ‘idea-first’ approach to marketing. We don’t even consider execution until we have taken a deep dive into the data, allowing us to build an understanding of the disease area and how your treatment can improve lives. 

Armed with these insights, we will develop the idea that sits at the heart of your overarching differentiation strategy, and which can be executed across the appropriate channels. This helps us convey your brand in a meaningful way, ensuring it resonates with the right people. 

To discuss how we can find your ‘idea’ and execute it across a multi-channel communications strategy, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team.