Digital Pioneer Award Winners

For decades, medical advertising relied on a tried and true formula of journal ads, direct mail, and collateral materials to communicate information to healthcare professionals.

With the development of digital communications, the industry found a tool perfectly suited for its information-heavy needs. Digital communications allowed more information to be communicated, with access to user-selected materials, interactivity, enhanced graphics, and many of the features of one-on-one personal communications.

Early efforts in this realm were handled by existing creative groups, assisted by a growing cadre of young professionals versed in the growing capabilities of digital communications. As the digital area grew and became more central to communication programs, agencies spun off digital divisions to handle these specialized needs.

The Medical Advertising Hall of Fame has honored the exceptional creative work from this period with its Heritage Ad Awards. With the growth and continuing evolution of digital communications, the organization is expanding its scope to include this newest form of advertising, and is instituting a Digital Pioneer Award to honor early efforts in this arena.

2016, the 20th anniversary of the MAHF, marked the introduction of our Digital Pioneer Awards (DPA).

Digital Pioneer Award Winners





Name of product/campaign: FlexPen
Name of company/client owning product/campaign: Novo Nordisk
Year launched: 2008
Type of media: Website
Agency producing product/campaign: closerlook, inc.
Team members:
Jon Sawyer – Account Director
Andrea Walter – Account Manager
Ali Barrett – Art Director
Dave Reidy – Writing Director
Abby Covert – Information Architect
Pat Conlon – QA
Justin Muggleton – Senior Designer
Holly Grigalunas – Copy Writer
Todd Kneedy – Technical Architect

Goals of product/campaign: Novo Nordisk wanted to create greater awareness of its portable insulin-pen product, FlexPen®. The unique design offered flexibility, ease and independence for people with diabetes. closerlook was asked to help create an online photo contest that would appeal to both current and potential FlexPen users to emphasize the product’s benefits. A secondary goal was to drive increased traffic and membership to Changing Life with Diabetes, the company’s free, online community for people with diabetes.

The contest asked current FlexPen users to submit a photo of themselves and their FlexPens in an interesting location. closerlook used Novo Nordisk’s large patient database to reach out to a variety of potential contest participants.

Description of product/campaign: The challenge allowed for only FlexPen users to submit photos. closerlook recommended broadening the reach of the contest by incorporating several phases of participation. While only FlexPen users could submit their photos, closerlook recommended engaging the general public to vote for the winners. A main contest website would be the home base for the contest. A series of strategically planned e-mails and banner ads would drive traffic to the website.

Because anyone would be able to vote for the winning photos, we also recommended expanding the target audience beyond Novo Nordisk’s database by tapping into a database provided by a popular, diabetes-related website. Advertising the contest on additional websites would help further enhance participation and increase awareness.

What made this a special product/campaign: The campaign received more than four million brand impressions and the contest photos were repurposed in Novo Nordisk public-relations efforts.

Having strengthened the relationship between FlexPen users and the FlexPen brand, and increased general awareness of the ease and mobility of FlexPen, the contest campaign was a success.

Awards and honors the product/campaign received: Global Awards



Name of product/campaign: Singulair AR: Build-a-Patient
Company/client owning product/campaign: Merck
Year launched: 2007
Agency producing product/campaign: JUICE Pharma Worldwide
Team members:
Joan Wildermuth, Debbie Valle, Phil Scherer, Karl Schempp, Laurie Frasier, Ben Surette, Michael Kaminski, Hector Lopez, Leslee Epperhart, Brian Purcell, Erika Maas

Goals of product/campaign: Singulair needed to engage and make its unique MOA relevant. For a “nuisance condition” like allergic rhinitis, getting an HCP’s attention was challenging, and making the product top-of-mind as an Rx choice for a wide range of patients was even more so. This detail helped to achieve those goals in a memorable way.

Description of product/campaign: Built for tablet PC, the interactive detail allowed HCPs to choose a patient type and define the clinical concerns that were most relevant to them. 32 unique patient portraits enabled the user to select any of 4 ethnicities, 4 age groups as well as gender. An array of scientific and clinical data was presented in animated modules designed to foster conversation.

What made this a special product/campaign: Before “personalization” was a buzzword, this detail facilitated conversations that were specific to an individual doctor’s patient cohort and clinical concerns. Selecting a patient created moments of delight, and the extensive use of animation throughout made the experience truly engaging. At the time, it was a groundbreaking tool.




Name of product/campaign: Rozerem
Name of company/client owning product/campaign: Takeda Pharmaceuticals
Year launched: 2006
Type of media: website
Agency producing product/campaign: Abelson Taylor
Team members:
Scott Hansen – Creative Director
Noah Lowenthal – Associate Creative Director
Marissa Ori – Copywriter
Vanessa Donley – Art Director
Ben Murphy – Developer
Cindy Stone – Account Director
Jeanine Koch – Account Supervisor

Goals of product/campaign: Beat Goliath…Ambien dominated the insomnia market like few products ever have. Our goal was to introduce a new way of thinking about sleep, and to introduce Rozerem as a new option for the treatment of insomnia. In order to take down Goliath, Rozerem needed to spend BIG. $200 million in broadcast media spend big.

With millions of eyeballs being driven to the website we had to ensure that we provided a seamless, immersive brand experience with absolutely no tradeoffs.

And we had to invent the technology to do it!

Description of product/campaign: gives patients and consumers easy access to detailed information about Rozerem and educates them on how sleep works and the topic of insomnia, while including entertaining, yet educational aspects to the website to encourage the user to return to the site and learn more.

What made this a special product/campaign: So…we created a video-based site for the launch of the brand.

The problem was that at the time, streaming video was about as easy as pushing an elephant through a garden hose. ‘Choppy’ and ‘spooling’ were two adjectives that summed up the experience for almost everyone watching video on the web.

In order to combat that, we created technology that broke the video packets into smaller, easier to deliver bits. This allowed us to simultaneously load 49 separate videos on the home page in order to seamlessly introduce the Rozerem “Your Dreams Miss You” campaign to the World Wide Web.

This proprietary technology allowed us to extend the conversation between Abe Lincoln, the Beaver, and Doug the insomniac, in an utterly charming interface that was the first of its kind.

And we struck a nerve. In the first 6 months received over 2 million visits. Many of whom ended up playing chess with the beaver…

Awards and honors the product/campaign received:wwwHealth Awards: Silver, World Wide Web Health Awards: Silver, DTC Nationals Most Innovative Campaign: Bronze



Name of product/campaign:Zetia e-Merge Program
Company/client owning product/campaign: Merck and Co.
Year launched: 2005
Agency producing product/campaign: TBWA\WorldHealth (formerly CAHG)
Team members:
Dr. Bill Marovitz – Chief Science Director
John Glen – Digital Strategist
Mike Banner – Account Director
Holly McGregor – Account Supervisor
Copywriter – Jeff Hughes, Creative Director, PhD.

Goals of product/campaign: In 2004, Merck and the Zetia Brand Team wanted to develop a non-personal treatment education program to target cardiologists and primary care physicians who frequently treat patients with cholesterol issues. The program objective was to demonstrate that adding Zetia to a patient’s existing statin regimen is a more effective treatment for getting patients to their cholesterol goal than titrating their existing regimen to the next highest dosage.

Description of product/campaign: CAHG developed a program that utilized the authority of Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) to demonstrate the advantages of adding Zetia to a patient’s existing statin regimen. CAHG designed and developed a proprietary online solution, called eMerge, that targeted and recruited physicians online and invited them to engage and learn about the advantages of add-on Zetia treatment.

eMerge was an online proprietary portal site where targeted physicians were invited via email to review a series of three KOL-hosted patient case studies that utilized both a KOL video component and a multiple choice question format where peer response was displayed. The case studies were intended to utilize KOLs to establish legitimacy and peer response to modify physician behavior.

Part of the eMerge program was based on the “Delphi Method” developed by the Rand Corporation in the 50s, The Delphi Method solicits the opinions of experts through a series of carefully designed questionnaires interspersed with information and opinion feedback in order to establish a convergence of opinion.

Each case study demonstrated Zetia’s superior add-on treatment outcome when patients needed to meet their cholesterol goals. When participating physicians answered each multiple-choice question, their answers were compared to the answers of their peers who previously participated in the eMerge program. Although each multiple choice answer was a viable treatment option, the KOLs provided what they considered the most appropriate answer that highlighted Zetia’s superiority. Each answer was compared to those of peers, so participating physicians were able see the KOL’s treatment opinion and how other physicians answered. From those compared responses, physicians learned what was the appropriate treatment option. The program demonstrated a physician who answered case #1 in a certain way would revisit and perhaps change their responses by case #3 due to the influence of the KOLs and their peers.

What made this a special product/campaign: In 2005, pharmaceutical companies were stepping up their exploration of how to connect and engage physicians on behalf of their brands. The companies were very active forming internal CRM departments trying to find and engage physicians to develop and secure long-term relationships. It was no coincidence that it was a time when physicians were getting more active on the Web, searching and engaging relevant content online. Online access and download speeds were getting better, and so was the quality of relevant health content for physicians. It was the year SERMO® launched that allowed physicians to seek out and engage their colleagues through a number of different online programs at the site, if only to ask a simple question about a treatment approach for their patients. Because of these improvements, physicians were rapidly gaining confidence in their abilities to access the Web and engage audiences like colleagues, pharmaceutical companies, and third-party portal sites. with all of this momentum pushing more physicians online it seemed like a good time to introduce a program like eMerge. However, it was also a time when many pharmaceutical companies, physician portals, and other third-party companies were vying for the same physician audience.

There are many reasons why eMerge was a special program. The first and most important was the unique physician recruiting practice. Utilizing top KOL Cardiologists, whom other prescribing cardiologists and primary care physicians look to for their expertise in statins and treating cholesterol issues in patients, were personally inviting physicians to participate. That led to excellent open and engagement email rates, especially when so many Pharmaceutical companies were connecting with physicians via email.

Second, as already mentioned, we used the Delphi Method already mentioned. It’s believed to be the first time this method was used online, and with physicians to assist in developing a response and a convergence of treatment opinion.



Rogaine for Men and Women

Name of company/client owning product/campaign: Pharmacia Consumer Health
Year launched:2001
Type of media: Website
Agency producing product/campaign:Medical Broadcast Company/Digitas Health
Team members:
Alexandra vonPlato – Executive Creative Director
Mark Nolan – Creative Director
Robby Garfinkel – Art Director
Phil DiGuilio – Designer
Tom Mullins – Copywriter
Steve Cleff – Information Architect
Michelle Kinsman – Project Management Supervisor
Steven Chiles – Account Executive
Goals of product/campaign:

  • Convert interested men and women into Rogaine users through a content strategy or science and st
  • Inspire registration into Rogaine Results, an eCRM program designed to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty
  • Motivate enrollment and product purchase through Rogaine Direct, the first direct-to-payment e-commerce site for an OTC product

Description of product/campaign: Rogaine was the first topical OTC product proven to regrow hair. The goal of this assignment was to create a master brand site for both the Men and Women’s Rogaine, to refresh the brand and create content for consumers who were considering trying Rogaine. Two important components of the site were a CRM Program called Rogaine Results designed to support proper usage and manage consumer expectations over the two months of use required before visible results, and Rogaine Direct, the first online direct-to-patient purchasing option for an OTC brand that was meant to blunt the market growth of pharmacy-branded minoxidil treatments available in store.

What made this a special product/campaign: The online version of Rogaine Results was one of the first adherence eCRM programs developed to support proper product use and manage consumer expectations during early treatment. Fifty percent of Rogaine Results registered members, who engaged with the program for two months, used Rogaine twice as long (four months) as opposed to Rogaine users who were not part of the program. Rogaine Direct was the first pharma sponsored e-commerce site for direct-to-patient purchase and fulfillment of product.

The Physician’s Internet Tutorial

The Physician’s Internet Tutorial

Name of company/client owning product/campaign: Roche Laboratories
Year launched: 1996
Type of media: Print/Live Workshops/CD-ROM/Hybrid Media
Agency producing product/campaign: IntraMed Educational Group
Goals of product/campaign:

  • Use the “borrowed interest” of the Internet to provide disease and brand messages
  • Help physicians better understand the value of the Internet for clinical research and education
  • Drive attendance at an annual medical meeting

What made this a special product/campaign: Developed in 1996 when clients were wary about the value and regulatory environment of the Internet, this program managed to gain huge physician adoption without actually creating a website. Rather, we taught physicians how to use the Internet, and in so doing showed them how to do research on topics of importance to our client. We also created a customized online experience in a way that was valuable to physicians while providing a unique communications channel for our client.

Comments are closed.