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).


Exjade - Iron Invaders

Name of company/client owning product/campaign:

Year launched:

 Type of media:

Agency producing product/campaign:
DDB Health

Team members: 
Jennie Fischette, Michael Schreiber, Chris Mears

Goals of product/campaign:
Empower patients through education and conversation starters to ensure early diagnosis of iron toxicity. The basis for this unprecedented success was a relationship marketing program called “Be Sickle Smart”.

Intercept and educate patients with a multichannel experience through advocacy outreach, a consumer spokesperson, gaming, and an online platform that delivered personalized messaging to each age group.

Create a personal and culturally relevant campaign that resonated with patients.

Description of product/campaign:
We leveraged co-created tools for advocacy to deliver directly to the community via social media and developed educational “gamification” tools to speak to our at-risk teenagers with iron overload in an engaging way and activate them to take action. View a clip of the game here.

What made this a special product/campaign:
While gamefication may seem old-hat today, it was breakthrough for pharma over a decade ago. Through this effort, a 28% increase occurred in the identification of appropriate patients for the treatment of iron overload.

Iron Invaders educational app was downloaded by 7k patients and played an average of 11 times by each user.

Please list any awards and honors the product/campaign received:
Iron Invaders was the first ever pharmaceutical app listed in Apple App Store’s New & Noteworthy section and won numerous digital awards.


Betaseron: The "POD" 3D 360 Degree Simulator

Name of product/campaign: Betaseron: The “POD” 3D 360 Degree Simulator

Name of company/client owning product/campaign: Bayer: Betaseron

Year launched: 2009

Type of media: Virtual Reality Experience

Agency producing product/campaign: Concentric Health Experience

Team members:
Ken Begasse, CEO
Michael Sanzen, CCO
Sayan Ray, AD
Aimee Eastwood, CW
Amanda Rivera, AE
Michael Rowe, Client

Goals of product/campaign: To educate neurologists about the need to treat early at the first clinical signs of Multiple Sclerosis.

To engage neurologists in a never experienced before way, to educate them on the new data for Betaseron as the only DMT with disease progression impact when used at the CIS.

To create a convention education experience that out-performed the competition and linked attendees into the Betaseron CRM platform.

They were asked to enter the BETA RESPONDER to embark on a mission to defeat MS.

Description of product/campaign: The First Responder gave viewers a first person journey through the CNS system in response to a first MS attack. With urgency, the responders experience our brand message…when MS attacks, “There’s not a moment to lose” and the use of Betaseron was “Not a Moment Too Soon”. Flying through the CNS, responders were educated on MS progression, Betaseron MOA and exposed to the growing data proving the Betaseron was a strong first choice for long-term MS management. The POD simulator experience was a mixed media, live experience. The 360 degree articulating POD fit 12 people and enveloped the riders in a immersive virtual 3D animated experience with surround sound. The First Responder Pod, educated and entertained attendees, with the early use of virtual reality. Much like today, message retention was elevated through engagement that pioneered 3D animated and live video.

What made this a special product/campaign: The early use of virtual reality combined with the physical experience transformed the Betaseron message beyond a print and data experience. In its first use at the AAN in Boston, the POD Simulator drew over 120 MD’s per hour, a 400% from previous year booth draws. Over 2,500 MD’s signed up for the CRM program at the AAN. The experience was so captivating, it was featured in a Boston Globe article on the event as innovative ways to educate physicians and the convention floor remained open an extra hour each day to accommodate the demand. The experienced amortized across many channels and events. The POD was transported across the nation to educate physicians at subsequent conventions, sales training events and health fairs at physician offices. The animation was used as education leave behinds for MD’s, loaded onto the reps tablet detail and used on the physician website. The The ROI was a miraculous 100:1.

Awards and honors the product/campaign received:
MM&M 2009 Gold Interactive
Bayer Innovator Award
RX Award


Enbrel eCongress

Name of product/campaign: Enbrel eCongress

Name of company/client owning product/campaign: Wyeth/Pfizer

Year launched: 2009

Type of media: Multichannel (online, print, personal, non-personal)

Agency producing product/campaign: H4B Chelsea/H4B Catapult

Team members:
Ed Stapor
Steve Nothel
John Clarkson
Doug Barr
Kel Smith
Kevin Vertuccio
Andria Medlin
Martina Campbell

Goals of product/campaign: The ENBREL eCongress provided unique access for HCPs to immerse themselves in rich ongoing education and engage in meaningful dialogue through emerging innovative technology. In a landscape of fierce competitors, ENBREL solidified its place as a digital trailblazer by employing this cutting-edge solution to reach a broad HCP audience.

Description of product/campaign: The ENBREL eCongress was an innovative, first-in-class virtual 3D congress environment — available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year —for ongoing HCP education. The virtual congress, housed on a branded microsite, featured exclusive access to clinical data, mechanism of action videos, patient education, publications, and presentations as well as information about upcoming events. The eCongress provided the clinical value of a traditional congress booth with the unprecedented benefit of access anytime, anywhere.

What made this a special product/campaign: Emerging, innovative, virtual technology. The 2009 economic environment presented unique challenges for many healthcare brands, including diminishing congress attendance. The ENBREL eCongress was born out of this barrier to HCP engagement. The digital forum provided a cost-effective solution without any travel or scheduling limitations, while still providing a focused, personal convention experience. The eCongress provided a first glimpse of the future of individualized education and self-guided detailing.

Awards and honors the product/campaign received:
In just one year, the ENBREL eCongress soared far above industry benchmarks with more than 10,000 total visits and over 1,500 unique visits to the site by HCPs from 10 countries.


Dexilant MOA

Name of product/campaign: Dexilant MOA

Name of company/client owning product/campaign: Takeda

Year launched: 2009

Type of media: MOA

Agency producing product/campaign: AbelsonTaylor

Team members: Noah Lowenthal
Marissa Ori
Vanessa Ruiz
Kat Burzycki
Donald Hanson
Scott Hansen
Lee Parkel

Goals of product/campaign: Dexilant (formerly Kapidex) was a second-generation proton pump inhibitor, launching in a very crowded market along with Prevacid and Nexium (the legendary Purple Pill). Fortunately, Dexilant’s main differentiator was a clinically meaningful one—two releases of medicine in one pill. This was important, because those pesky proton pumps that produce all that painful acid in GERD are not all “on” at the same time. Some pumps turn on in the morning—those can be controlled with a morning PPI dose. But some pumps don’t turn on till later in the day, and by then, the medicine is beginning to leave the system, causing more pain for the patient. Enter Dexilant – one release of medicine in the morning, and one later in the day to truly shut down acid production all day.

It was a simple story to tell, and educating gastroenterologists about proton pumps turning on and off throughout the day and thereby “escaping” the effects of the PPI, was the focus of our prelaunch market conditioning program.

Dexilant launched at Digestive Disease Week 2009, and the brand went all out building a memorable booth that drove home the idea of two releases, and included a giant building-sized steel stomach. And inside that stomach, at the heart of the booth, was the MOA experience that worked to differentiate Dexilant from the billion-dollar brands already on the market.

Description of product/campaign: Because it was impossible to know whether a gastroenterologist walking into our booth had seen the market conditioning program, we created a “choose your own adventure”-style MOA experience. The moderator prompted the audience to set the level of education that each tour provided. This would allow for a quick reminder for some HCPs, and a more in-depth experience for others. The technology that drove it all was the newly-launched Microsoft Surface Table—a massive, coffee table-sized multitouch platform.

Conference attendees would enter the oversized stomach in shifts and gather around the table where a trained moderator would guide them through the MOA. No two experiences were the same as each crowd would socially decide which part of the stomach they would explore and to which level of detail. They could scroll through the hours in a day and watch proton pumps turn on and produce acid at different times, they could “dose” the drug by placing a physical model of a capsule on the table and “flick” the two types of granules to shut down the early pumps or the later-in-the-day pumps, or they could stimulate even more acid production with a physical plate of food (both physical models had RF tags on their underside that the screen could recognize and launch a particular action).

What made this a special product/campaign: Late 2008 (when production on this project began) was a pivotal year for this type of immersive technology. iPads had just come to market, touchscreens were just hitting the mainstream, and gestures were just being introduced to users—nevermind the novelty of triggering onscreen events with physical objects. Set inside the giant steel stomach in the booth at DDW, the Dexilant Surface MOA was a social learning application that provided a digitally and physically immersive experience. By harnessing the excitement of this new technology, our simple story generated interest beyond expectations—Takeda had to hire “bouncers” for the booth to help with crowd control.

Awards and honors the product/campaign received:
Clio – Silver

Click here to view video


How I Fight MS

Name of product/campaign: How I Fight MS

Name of company/client owning product/campaign: EMD Serono

Year launched: 2010

Type of media: MOA

Agency producing product/campaign: Greater Than One

Team members:
Pilar Belhumeur, Creative Director
John Mahler, Strategist
Stefan Armstrong, Copywriter
Penny Lam, Account Lead
Christa Toole, SEO
Joe Fullman, Junior Strategist

Goals of product/campaign:

  • To create a “real world” online community of people with MS, where they could share authentic lifestyle information through their own videos to help each other get more out of life with MS
  • To harness the reach of hand-picked social media influencers as a new way of building and maintaining an online community of patients interested in authentic lifestyle information

Description of product/campaign: featured videos, blogs, photos, essays, polls, and even playlists created by 5 hand-picked influencer-patients with MS, with regularly scheduled content updates twice a month. Visits to the site were accelerated when the 5 vloggers posted news about and links to the campaign on their own social media channels (YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter). Their large numbers of followers became regular visitors to The site enabled visitors to “share” a particular post or “send to a friend,” and it provided a registration option to receive additional premium content and ongoing communications from the vloggers through the “How I Fight MS” eCRM email program.

What made this a special product/campaign: “How I Fight MS” was a pioneer in identifying and working with social media influencer-patients for a disease awareness campaign. It blazed a trail into featuring patient-generated content, and it was the vanguard in meeting a real need for authentic lifestyle information around living with MS (instead of just providing disease state information).

Greater Than One utilized a unique social media strategy, starting with online and social media research, that identified a need for video-based lifestyle content among patients with MS. Capitalizing on the very strong presence of existing MS bloggers, we measured their influence and visibility, narrowed the field to the strongest 12, and recruited the top 5 as featured influencers in the campaign. We nurtured our relationships with them by providing in-person training on videography, content production schedules, communication protocols, and ongoing dialogue.

The “How I Fight MS” website received more than 200,000 visits—representing 70% of the American MS population—and thousands of YouTube views and patient registrations. The campaign also received very positive press from MS advocacy groups and bloggers. About the sponsor of the campaign, EMD Serono, one blogger said, “This is an example of a drug company that is trying to do the right thing by hearing from real MSers about their real experience.”

Awards and honors the product/campaign received:
Interactive Media Award for Best Medical/Non-Profit Website
Interactive Media Award for Outstanding Achievement Community
Hive Award for Best Community Website
Hive Award for Pharmaceutical Blog
Webby Finalist for Reality/Non-Profit Website
ECHO Leader Award
Communicator Award for Interactive Media
Communicator Award of Excellence (Reality)
Communicator Award of Distinction (Health and Wellness)
Communicator Award of Distinction (Health)



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: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.



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


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

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.

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Lonhala Magnair