The evolution of people into more informed and alert consumers has caused a great transformation in branding communication, focusing increasingly on the creation of useful content to inform and entertain their consumers. This is also true for pharmaceutical companies that now have the opportunity (and the mission) to support patients from a distance. This support includes psychological help, since each treatment is a way to reach personal balance. This is one of the main tasks of marketing in the pharmaceutical field, with the growing creation of specific multi-channel entertainment campaigns that tell a story or offer an entertaining experience in order for people to discover a drug’s usefulness. The recent video productions we see, therefore, allow us to speak of Therapeutic Support 2.0, a new challenge in the world of communication. As there is a greater need for more specific and profiled content, this sort of support responds with better and more conscientious ethics of communication. So what are things like now? How do we balance promotional content and educational objectives? We talk about it with the author Dario Nuzzo, who imagines and produces short fictional stories for Italian pharmaceutical companies, writing content that makes patients the protagonists. His last work, Impazienti cronici (Chronic Impatients) has recived the Digital Award 2020 in the patients category.
Q: Why is storytelling so important in the pharmaceutical industry, and what opportunities does it offer?
A: When it comes to health, there is a very high level of trust between doctor, patient, and medicine. In this sense, storytelling allows for a greater connection to people’s emotions – people who may be suffering – by creating empathy, as well as valuable psychological support.
Q: In what way?
A: Each project tries to enter the heart and mind of those who suffer from a certain pathology, understanding their daily needs and problems. Though, we have to also be careful about how we analyze the proposed content because every single word is important and has the potential to be educational content.
Q: How does that translate into an audiovisual product?
A: In these “medical comedies” or Medicom as they are called, characters evolve through an awareness of the fact that in order to be healthy, they must diligently take care of themselves. This is why, in addition to representing a direct testimony which one can identify with, they indirectly educate the viewer on wellness practices in multiple areas.
An example is "On Susanna’s Skin," the first web series on Chronic Spontaneous Hives, organized by Dario Nuzzo and recently awarded by Mediastars, the technical award for advertising.
Q: What was the winning formula in "Sulla pelle di Susanna?"
A: Today’s concept of health has changed. It is no longer understood as purely the absence of disease but, more generally, managing prevention of illnesses coincides with the attempt to be physically and psychologically stable. Each episode contains a specific tutorial by medical specialists which explain how to deepen one’s understanding of how nutrition, psychology, and lifestyle relate to illness. At the same time, these are all in the patient’s general interest.
Q: Are we experiencing a new form of “ telehealth” ?
A: In a certain sense, yes. In Italy, doctors and patients are using online service more and more frequently, especially since Covid-19 hit. Now more than ever it is the time to use video as a tool for prevention and therapeutic support by also using entertainment to make the treatment of issues "pleasant," even issues that are not light burdens to bear. One of the latest projects I have worked on is “Chronic Impatients,” a short series of stories that raise awareness of therapeutic adherence. It is the first time that a pharmaceutical company produces a TV comedy dedicated entirely to the concept of prevention.
Q: I mean, if it's done well, can even advertising teach us something?
A: Without a doubt. In my opinion, the most important thing is to never refer to specific products. We work to get as close as possible to the psychological condition of the patient. We try to offer him all the tools he needs for the proper management of his illness.