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Is There Room For Humor In Medical Marketing?

Is there room for humor in medical marketing?

Many a joke begins with a man walking into a doctor’s office, yet companies are tentative to include comedy in medical marketing campaigns. Other industries use humor to great effect and gain national attention through their comedic content, but can organizations make jokes when discussing health?

Medical Marketing & Media reported the AstraZeneca pharmaceutical company recently took down a humorous ad where two fish discuss the effects of lowering triglyceride levels. The content was popular with a variety of audiences. It won a top prize at a medical-specific film festival in Cannes, France, and significantly increased web traffic. So it’s a bit of mystery why the company would remove the content from its branded websites and social media. It could be because the product didn’t perform as well in drug trials as expected, but some industry experts suggest the business wasn’t happy with the tone.

The healthcare industry is a serious business, and doctors turn to company educational materials to make important decisions about their patients’ health. However, humor as a marketing tactic doesn’t necessarily need to remain in the waiting room. Here’s what to consider when debating how a little comedy can help the medicine go down.

Humor might cheer patients up when they’re feeling rough.

Humor creates empathy and captures attention
When companies design marketing materials for doctors and nurse practitioners they must remember that, while the audience are professionals working in an important field, they are also human. A humorous image in their email can lighten their day and encourage a positive association with a business.

Humor can be an effective way to introduce important data. Chet Moss, former CFO of ICC Lowe, told Global Awards he shared comedian John Cleese’s opinion:  Laughing with people is the same as agreeing with them. Jokes can present information in a new light to make it more relatable or highlight the human connection to medical data. Having a fish share drug test results while discussing problems it’s had with its golf game could create an instant connection with the viewer.

Medical email marketing must do what it can to stand out in a doctor’s very full inbox. A humorous subject line can catch attention and promote inbound marketing. Social media users are much more likely to share content if they believe their contacts will find it both informative and amusing.

“It’s important to begin new campaigns with a focus on the company’s brand.”

You have to decide what’s funny
There is a difference between creating humorous marketing for a snack food and a pharmaceutical product that’s supposed to improve a patient’s health. Medical marketing must deal with subject matter like injury, disease and quality of life. Companies also want doctors to see them as professional allies, not just comedic distractions.

It’s important to begin new campaigns with a focus on the company’s brand. There are certain medical manufacturers that deal with issues that could never be made light of but could benefit from a slightly warmer tone in certain messages. Other medical organizations provide products and services at times when doctors and patients could use friendliness and a little bit of amusement. For example, The Green Room marketing company shared the example of a hospital that appealed to pregnant patients using a musical video complete with dancing nurses and well-timed word play.

Humor doesn’t immediately neglect professionalism as long as the content is consistent with a company’s goals and relationships with medical practitioners. Companies also have to follow the traditional rules of comedy. The pharmaceutical marketing consultant Intouch Solutions advised manufacturers to use humor to remove embarrassment as opposed to mocking patients. A business shouldn’t try to be a comedian at an open mic night but rather a friend sharing a fun story.

Finding right place for new content in medical email marketing requires a list of physician emails that is up to date. It’s important companies recognize what their contacts expect and when, because comedy is all about timing.

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