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‘Launch Success Had Nothing to Do With the Brand Team’

The positive response to my first true pharma industry quotes blog motivated me to playback another gem that would more closely resonate with my Clients rather than my supplier brethren. And as luck would have it, someone in Senior Management at a manufacturer delivered me a doozy.

World's Best Boss mugROF has had the opportunity to complete launch positioning and differentiation strategy work for some of the most successful new product launches in our industry over the past three years. These Brand launches have been built on the backs of commercial organizations that have painstakingly sought to maximize the molecule out of the lab and into the market. However, the consistent quote I’ve heard uttered in relation to these monumental accomplishments is, “The launch success has nothing to do with the Brand Team.”

Cue uncomfortable silence.

Yes, that’s right those 80+ hours per week you’ve been clocking, the ‘cat herding’ you’ve done across the organization to gain alignment, and that insane travel schedule that caused you to swear off any personal commitments for 6-12 months were all for naught! You and your colleagues actually had nothing to do with the success of the launch. Ouch.

As a former Brand Manager, it hurts just to write it down let alone to hear it spoken in all sincerity after a tremendously successful launch.

So what do you do to combat this sentiment? Quit? This is only really an option if you plan on leaving the industry forever, because you’ll likely run across this type of sentiment again in our industry.

What you need to do is to inject a little objectivity to support your case. Take Senior Management to task by using the intellect of people he or she spends quite a bit of time with . . . Wall Street Analysts. In addition to supporting ‘Buy’ ratings for Pharma and Biotech stocks, analysts also do a tremendous amount of sophisticated market research and quantitative analyses in support of their recommendations. If the Brand Team plays no role in the outcome then shouldn’t the launch results be equivalent to the average of all the analysts’ launch sales forecasts. With truly successful launches, it never is.

So if you’re fighting the perception or an actual statement that you and your colleagues had nothing to do with the launch success of your brand, pull the analyst reports. Most biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies have 6-8 analysts following them at any given time. Aggregate the pre-launch sales forecasts across the analyst reports and see how closely it matches to the post-launch reality. The deviation gives you a starting point to defend the value you’ve delivered to the company.

In my experience, today’s Brand Team is in a lose-lose situation. When a launch is successful, it has nothing to do with the Team, and when it fails the Team takes the fall.

I’ll leave you with one final question. If they have nothing to do with the success, why even hire a Brand Team, because aren’t you really just saying this stuff sells itself?

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