17/12/2019 | BlogPost

Think about your audience first, tell your stories on the right platforms, and focus on patients, not products

Francis Namouk | Managing Director, Healthware MedComms & SWM


Surrounded by the health innovation ecosystem, I've been truly excited to be part of the #FH19 global gathering where I had the opportunity to share my experience in filmmaking and storytelling.

After 10 years of producing films in the life science sector, I’ve witnessed certain patterns.

Over the years, I've noticed that pharma companies tend to produce videos that are, at times, misaligned with their overall strategy. Why? Because videos are produced in isolation - filmmakers are seldom included in the initial planning phase of their film-based campaigns, and distribution is an afterthought.

Our experience

When looking at other industries, the importance of identifying key platforms and verticals that already have a strong following is a critical factor in crafting the story that supports the message. Thinking about how to reach and engage target audiences comes first. In our experience, pharma companies tend to do this in reverse, thinking about the message first, then creating the marketing materials and only then looking at how the materials will reach the audience.
As a result, videos risk ending up with low viewership and engagement rates.

Another pattern I’ve seen is the lack of patient centricity when it comes to storytelling. The focus is placed on what is perceived to be of most interest to HCPs – the product and its benefits – when our conversations with HCPs have taught us that what HCPs care most about is helping their patients.

15 Minutes of Fury

Recently, we came across the alarming statistic that 3/4 of suicides in the UK are committed by men aged 20-49. After learning this, Streaming Well in partnership with Healthware International, explored how we could reach this demographic with messages about mental health. We realized that we could reach our target audience through popular sport. We approached UFF & AFTV (Arsenal Fan TV) which is the largest football fan channel in the world and asked them if they would consider participating in a documentary film. They boast 1.12 million subscribers on their YouTube channel and have delivered over 760 million views to our target audience.
The cohort they reach is 98% male and aged 18-50. In collaboration with Mind, Mental Health Foundation and other healthcare experts, we produced a thought-provoking short film called "15 Minutes of Fury". As the aim of the film is to reduce stigma around mental health conversations, these grassroots footballing communities in the UK overlap precisely with the demographic to whom we need to deliver our messages.

The challenge was: could we get the editorial balance right to ensure that AFTV’s followers would engage with this serious topic? The question was answered when we released the film on #WorldMentalHealthDay 2019. We received over 200,000 views in the first 10 days. In that same catchment, we scored a positivity rating of 98.2% and solicited over 1,500 comments. On average, people watched the film 50% of the way through (6.5 minutes) which proves we really connected with the audience. The average drop off time for a video of this type is 30 seconds. We learned through making this film, if you want to get hard men to connect with their feelings, football is an excellent place to start.

Key take aways

Start with the audience. Figure out the type of content they are already consuming and where they watch it, then engage that audience through emotive storytelling. This learning applies to HCPs as well as patients. Doctors are people too (some are even football fans). They care most about their patients; so, seize the opportunity to show that pharma does too, earning their trust and loyalty in the process.

  • Channels
  • Communication
  • Design
  • Digital health
  • Digital Pharma
  • Frontiers Health
  • Healthcare
  • Healthcare Marketing
  • Media
  • Videos
  • World Mental Health Day
Francis Namouk

Francis is a digital video content strategist and entrepreneur. He has a passion for storytelling, interactive experiences, and ultimately customer engagement. He has over 15 years of professional experience in digital comms within the life science and consumer health sectors. Francis holds an MFA in Design and Technology from Parsons School of Design, in NYC.