In a guide to "using celebrities" in drug promotion campaigns Fiona Hall and Lucie Harper - from the UK PR company Shire Health London - explained in the trade publication, Pharmaceutical Marketing, that celebrities could ensure media coverage of a marketing campaign.
"Celebrities can be very powerful tools in increasing publicity around a launch or campaign, particularly when you do not have a strong news story and need a famous personality to drive initial interest in your messages," they wrote.
However, in countries where direct-to-consumer advertising is banned, celebrities can't endorse a brand name product. Nor, they warn, are they cheap. "Celebrities cost a lot of money, often between £15,000 to £25,000 for three hours of work, so you need to weigh up how else you could use this money to influence your target audience," they wrote.
"Celebrities should be managed carefully as there are risks involved. Are they going to stay on message, or is there a possibility that they could be involved in a scandal in advance of your launch?," they warn. Even making celebrities available for interviews carries risks. "It may be sensible not to involve them in 'off the cuff' questions from journalists. Try to pre-plan interviews so your celebrity is not caught off guard," they wrote.
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Related SourceWatch articles
- "Drug companies pushing celbrity message", O'Dwyers PR Daily, January 8, 2001. (Sub req'd).
- Fiona Hall and Lucie Harper, "Using celebrities", Pharmaceutical Marketing, July 1, 2003. (Hall is managing director and Harper associate director at Shire Health London.
- Darren Rovell, "The burden of pitching pills", ESPN.com, November 19, 2004
- "Celebrity endorsement on the rack", Pharmaceutical Marketing, November 1, 2005.