Publicity or public service?

Publicity or public service?

GSK has painted the town red, yellow and green with its HEPPOs, the new mascots that educate the ill effects of Hepatitis and the importance of vaccination. This unique combination of corporate social responsibility (CSR) with corporate advertising has changed the age-old rules of the game. Earlier, CSR advertisements were known for their long and heavy chunks of text—usually boring—with the company logo and a few disclaimers in almost unreadable font size. The new-age, cute and colourful mascots are an example of how pharmacos should design their CSR advertisements for maximum mind share.

But pharma companies that spread awareness by public service advertising are facing the moral question—Is this indirect advertising for prescription products for which advertising is not legal? Well, it certainly is, as most of the pharmacos, which release public service ads for a certain disease, positively have a product in that segment. And again this is not just selfish advertising, it is a good mix of publicity and public service. These ads spread awareness amongst naïve patients and make them seek the necessary medical assistance. Advertising also increases the compliance rates. And in the whole process, if the sales of the company’s product rises, then nothing like it. Not only is this a good sales strategy, but it is also a good way of corporate branding. A lot of people know about Benadryl, but who knows that Pfizer manufactures it?

Larger than life

Sensex might be falling and FIIs might flow out but India is growing in terms of its international presence. And most of all, pharma industry is cashing in on the global advantage. After exports, Contract Research and Manufacturing Services (CRAMS) is the next heavy business advantage which is swinging in favour of India. A string of companies have equipped themselves with the infrastructure for global deals. The very fact that India has the largest number of USFDA approved facilities outside USA is evidence to the growing interest in the CRAMS space.

If it’s just the cost advantage, India would face strong competition from Eastern Europe, China and Korea. But it is not just the cost advantage that is drawing international players to India. It is also the strong chemical engineering capabilities, giving us a competitive edge of the possible contenders in the CRAMS space. The gains through CRAMS are not just monetary. India is slowly gaining the international manufacturing and research expertise and moving up the value chain. This will boost the standards of the domestic companies as well. The story is all advantage India!

Experts say that pharma is the next best thing to IT. And as pharma industry is growing very much on the heels of IT, it is also being plagued by the dilemma of heavy attrition. Pharma companies are expanding operations and the demand for workforce has made pharma companies go the IT way of luring people with fat carrots. But this is a practice that will boomerang on the industry as each company tries to lure the employees of the other organisation, creating an artificial rise in salaries and allowances. Companies must concentrate on creating conducive working conditions and good HR practices, which make employees, think twice before changing their job.

Sandeep Ajgaonkar