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What Invention Can't You Wait For?

Industry: Pharmaceutical
Media:Direct Market
Style: Minimalism
For more than a century, Merck has developed breakthrough medicines and vaccines for many of the world’s most challenging diseases, including measles, cancer, HIV/AIDS and heart disease. Yet despite these important contributions to society, few people cite medicines when asked what inventions have had the greatest impact – and even fewer are aware of Merck’s role as inventor. After conducting research of 1,000 Americans, only 5% cited medicines when asked what inventions have had the greatest impact. Similarly, while 81% could identify Steve Jobs, just 17% were familiar with Maurice Hilleman, who helped invent many vaccines. Our charge: change the public’s mindset about Merck inventions among core external audiences and employees by: - Showcasing Merck’s positive impact on patients, communities and the world through its inventions - Framing Merck’s inventions in the context of the most cherished and desired of all time
The general public typically doesn’t think or care about pharmaceutical breakthroughs until they – or someone they love - need one. To impact Merck’s target, we had to redefine the inventions they deem most important by telling the story through the eyes of patients desperate for a cure. The focus of our strategy was to expand the definition of the word “invention” to include healthcare inventions and their impact—not just technology. To do this, we had to: - Redefine Merck’s inventions in the context of inventions people saw as having a significant impact - Redefine Merck’s role as inventor by putting it in the company of the technology inventions people most admire - Redefine the media where the story is told, replacing traditional Merck media with more tech and pop culture media
The general public typically doesn’t think or care about pharmaceutical breakthroughs until they – or someone they love – need one. And, it hasn’t helped that a few bad actors have recently dominated headlines and cast a negative perception across the industry as a whole. To change the viewpoint of Merck’s target audience, we had to redefine the inventions they deem most important without preaching or lecturing. Instead, it was crucial to create content our audience would be interested in and be entertained by, then powerfully demonstrate that medicine is as important an invention as iPhones and flat-screen televisions.
When compared to competitors, Merck saw a lift in volume and net sentiment (39% and 100% respectively) - New high for engagement: Engagement on Merck’s social media channels was at record levels. For example, on Facebook and Twitter engagement rates were double the industry average. - Record views: The video has garnered more views than any other corporate video in the company’s history, with more than 15 million views across all platforms and channels. - Content resonated with targets: Videos served via paid advertising achieved a 79% completion rate, even when the video was skippable. - Enthusiastic employee response: 83% of employees were aware of the short phrase that reflects the company’s commitment to inventing transformational medicines and vaccines and 78% understood the role of invention at Merck.
The “Can’t Wait For” video launched April 2017 and ran through October 2017. We took a multi-pronged implementation approach: - Employee and Investor Engagement: Distributed to shareholders and employees including in town halls around the world - Paid Media: Included in video media buys on various Time Inc. properties - Earned Media: Shared and featured on new outlets for Merck (Inc. and Business Insider) that allowed the company to show up in an unexpected way - Social Media: 15-second versions of the video were created to appeal to different targets and shared across Merck’s corporate social media handles at moments when they would resonate most: o A version for moms focused on the story of a parent o “Influential consumers” focused on technology - Digital Media: Featured on The site also houses survey research and stories of how Merck is inventing
Merck launched “Can’t Wait For,” an emotional video that poignantly highlighted that among all the inventions we look forward to, only one has life-saving impact. It begins with “person-on-the-street” interviews with trendy, techy people in Silicon Valley (CA) and Silicon Alley (NYC) who are asked: “What invention can’t you wait for?” Most answers center on ideas like “time travel” and “flying cars.” The goal was to entertain and keep our audience guessing what point the video would eventually make. Our last interviewee is a parent of a child with cancer whose only wish is for “a cure,” reinforcing that, while our research shows 95% of people don’t think of medicine as invention, to this parent, it’s the only invention that matters. That moment turns the video on its head and poignantly demonstrates the fact we overlook the importance of medical invention.
The United States has numerous regulations designed for healthcare/pharma communications. Presently, regulated by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Prescription Drug Marketing Act, respectively. As part, these agencies enforce communications provide "fair balance" between the risks and benefits for consumers.

Our target audience is the influential consumer - men and women thought-leaders in their communities, news-savvy, socially engaged and first movers when it comes to new innovation. They over-index in receptivity to invention and tech topics, making them primed to appreciate and propagate our content to strategically reach new audiences.
Production Company:
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2018
Shortlist Pharma
Regulated: Direct to Consumer
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