There was an awkward silence in the office of advertising agency Branding Iron. Their previous marketing campaigns for community pharmacy had always been a huge success, but this time, the client had a problem. Senior campaign manager, Barry “Buzz” Words, stood and cleared his throat.
“OK, let's recap where we’re at. The client is a new national distance-selling pharmacy, Onlytablets.com, and their aim is to become the biggest online dispenser in the UK.
“We spent months crafting the perfect advertising campaign, that was guaranteed to big-up the client only to find that half of it has to be scrapped because some of the claims are ‘not currently realistic’.
“Now this wouldn’t normally be a problem for us, but it seems like a rival agency well and truly cocked it up when the Advertising Standards Authority received complaints about another internet pharmacy.”
A chorus of boos ran around the room. “Typical,” hissed head of creative, Tamara Sownd-Byte. “They’ll be telling us some of the Brexit promises were exaggerated next.”
“Well, whatever the rights and wrongs it seems we now have to scrap some of the claims from our advert. ‘The right drugs, right on time’ – that had to go when the client admitted that they had made dispensing errors, and that some prescriptions had gone astray.”
Head of marketing Bill Shut nodded sagely. “OK, so instead of our claim ‘We’ll keep your data safe’, could we say ‘We won’t sell your data to an Australian lottery company’?”
“Or” cried Tamara, “how about ‘Helping the NHS save money by putting your high street pharmacy out of business?’ Then we ensure our unsolicited mail is covered with emblems that resonate with the public – the NHS logo, the Help For Heroes logo, and an England flag, you know, to make it look official.”
Buzz smiled. “I like where you’re going with that Tamara. We could also try ‘Improving your fitness with a walk when your drug delivery was returned to the depot’, and ‘Saving you vet fees when your dog eats the drugs parcel from the letterbox’.”
“OK,” said Bill. “I think we’re onto something now. I’m sensing a new reality that could really chime with the times. ‘Internet pharmacy – our new medicine service is: Just Google it’. Or ‘Need an emergency supply? Try finding a community pharmacy that’s still trading’.
“And once health secretary Matt Hancock enables the Alexa NHS skill, we can automatically reorder your antidepressants or your sildenafil depending upon the words and sounds that Alexa hears. I’m sure we can come up with an Amazon music playlist for pharmacy that captures the moment.”
Tamara leaped to her feet and began singing. “It's coming home, it’s coming, drugs are coming home...”
“Excellent football analogy,” cried Buzz. “Internet pharmacy generates huge expectations that it can’t ultimately deliver. With such innovative new pharmacy services, how can the National Pharmacy Association possibly refuse membership to internet chemists like our client? After all – soon they’ll be the only pharmacies left.”