[Case Study] “Breath Of Life” - break the traditional thinking in pharmaceutical marketing



When other business sectors rapidly transform to take advantage of the opportunities that technology presents, pharmaceutical brands remain stuck in the past, holding on to outdated and uncoordinated views on how to communicate in their business. Recently, pharmaceutical marketers are changing to implement unique marketing campaigns. However, they still maintain strict regulations of the pharma industry while bringing creative advertising closer to audiences.


1. Brief:

  • Brand: GlaxoSmithKline

  • Campaign: Breath of life

  • Advertising Agency: McCann Health

The challenge

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a dangerous health concern, usually ignored as people consider it just shortness of breath. 100 Million people get diagnosed with COPD in China every year. However, only less than 7% are properly diagnosed. While the number of people getting diagnosed is already very high, the real numbers are still enormous and undiscovered.


The solution

The campaign created the first-ever COPD self-testing tool on WeChat aimed at the 100 million adults in China that are affected by Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). GlaxoSmithKline, along with McCann health and Wechat, has discovered a high-tech, cultural, and effective way of diagnosing people. The breath of life is a program set to function with the largely popular Chinese messaging app, WeChat. By collaborating with a Pulmonologist and a popular Chinese blowing-ink artist. The user is supposed to blow air into the mobile phone’s microphones, which will result in the formation of the traditional Chinese blow painting on the screen of the mobile phone. If the painting is 70% and more than 70% complete, then there is a greater chance that one is free from the disease. If not, one is advised to get tested.


The result

The first week of the campaign launch got a whopping 10000 click-throughs, and the numbers are only supposed to increase. The breath of life campaign also received the Grand Prix award at the Cannes ad festival. The campaign also won a Gold Lion. McCann Health Shanghai was also named Cannes Lions Healthcare Agency of the Year and Cannes Lions Healthcare Network of the Year went to McCann Health.


2. Insight

Breath of Life is inspired by the traditional Chinese art form of painting, campaigning as a wonderful symphony of technology, culture, and science. By blowing air into the microphone of the mobile phone, if the picture is 70% or more complete, the user is in normal health, if it is lower, the health situation is unstable. The beauty of the campaign is that it creates a new, unflattering, scary, compelling way to talk about the disease. In addition, effectively combining the elements of tradition, technology, and art to make a life-saving piece of tech.


In the digital age, people are becoming less and less dependent on doctors for advice. There are abundant sources of information available online and on apps. Therefore, the pharmaceutical industry needs to be more innovative in communication to reach customers.



Sources: 1. https://campaignsoftheworld.com/technology

2. www.digitaltrainingacademy.com

https://www.adforum.com/creative-work/ad/player/34596078/breath-of-life/gsk-glaxosmithkline (Video)

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