Savvy Strategy Helps Duchesnay Bounce Back After a Social Media Snafu

 Duchesnay pulls out the stops to fix their social media gaff...

You may recall our article from a couple months back, “How the FDA is Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” which reported how Canada-based pharma company Duchesnay USA earned an FDA Warning Letter after a social media blunder. Reality TV star Kim Kardashian had partnered with the company to promote its morning sickness drug Diclegis, but didn’t follow agency regulations on properly balancing risks and benefits when posting her experience with the medication on Twitter.


Duchesnay responded by following the FDA letter’s action items immediately. The hit to the drug maker’s reputation wouldn’t be such a quick fix.


Same Approach, New Tactic


The pharmaceutical communications team at Duchesnay was able to turn things around by sticking to their original strategy – with just a slight adjustment to the delivery. The company tapped another reality TV star, Emily Maynard Johnson, who appeared on ABC's The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, to promote Diclegis on Instagram and Twitter. But Duchesnay got it right this time with their 2016 promotions.


Johnson’s posts took the *yawn* out of the required FDA information by combining it with compelling, personal storytelling on Instagram. Expecting mothers could relate to her experience, trying everything from diet to exercise to lifestyle changes before finding the solution to her morning sickness. Johnson posted highly personal images along with the captions, welcoming her target audience into her family.


In marketing landscape where pharma companies are slow to embrace social media, Duchesnay proved it has hit its stride. Duchesnay reports that Johnson has helped generate more awareness for morning sickness and Diclegis through her Instagram posts.


A Better Way to Use Twitter


In addition to Instagram, Johnson did a Twitter takeover of the Duchesnay USA Twitter profile on #BumpDay, a day recognizing pregnant women. Social media platforms with limited characters can present a challenge when it comes to getting all the required risks and balances in the post, but it’s one that can be overcome. Johnson mastered the art of the FDA-Approved Tweet by telling her story and connecting with other women that suffer from morning sickness.


Choosing the Right Influencer


Would the revised strategy have worked with just any pregnant celebrity? Maybe. But the right influencer is key, especially with the target audience for Diclegis: Pregnant women are the only way to go. For the Duchesnay campaign, Johnson was a smashing success as an influencer. She’d experienced morning sickness with previous pregnancies and hadn’t found a solution to manage it. Finally, with her third child, Diclegis came to the rescue.


Of course, Johnson’s social media following was a factor: With her 600,000+ followers on Instagram and 400,000 on Twitter at the height of the campaign, Duchesnay was able to connect with a massive online world of pregnant women.


Success with the Right Social Media Strategy


Things came to a happy halt with the birth of Johnson’s baby – a healthy boy – on September 16, 2016. Duchesnay will continue to use influencers on Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms in the future. And why not? They’ve clearly figured out the formula for a successful campaign:


  1. The right personality fit between the influencer and brand;
  2. The right context with timing and images destined to engage; and,
  3. A genuine story that resonates.

Kudos to Duchesnay for not abandoning its social media approach altogether. After a rocky start with Kardashian, the marketing team might have determined to throw in the towel. But the company clearly recognizes the importance of ABSOLUTE NEED to employ social media for pharmaceutical communications. While an FDA Warning Letter is an unfortunate way to learn a lesson, Duchesnay certainly managed a winning rebound.

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