Following quickly on my post about Pharma companies warming up to social media, I got a call this week from some folks I know at Sanofi-Aventis. They are launching their very own YouTube channel to promote their Go-Insulin campaign aimed at offsetting the myths and misperceptions about insulin use among type 2 diabetics.

So far, there are seven videos posted — all patients' personal stories — three of them featuring Gregg Pfaff, the deli owner who's been showcased in all of their print magazine ads for the last year. (He's a really nice guy, btw; I met him at TCOYD!)



I must say that the videos are extremely well made (no surprise, with the kind of budgets available here). The channel also features links to some clever "interactive learning goodies" like an insulin "Myth or Reality" game, and a downloadable Insulin Discussion Guide that you can customize and print out to use when talking with your doctor about starting insulin.  There's also a direct link for viewers/customers to register on Sanofi's Go-Insulin website.  It's all very clever and extremely well executed.  It just feels weird.

I've certainly been one of the loudest proponents of the notion that Pharma companies need to embrace social media, and should do so in a way that offers valuable educational content.

But now that it's coming to fruition, watching the once-freewheeling YouTube, where amateur content has always been king, used in such a blatantly commercial way is going to take some getting used to. The other day I mentioned Johnson & Johnson's YouTube channel.  Theirs currently features 109 professionally shot videos on everything from weight loss to baby care.  But there don't seem to be any specific product plugs or even links enticing viewers to their product pages.  Maybe this is due to caution more than anything else, but it feels more like an actual YouTube channel rather than the extension of a drug marketing site.

Don't get me wrong; I think that Go-Insulin is a worthwhile campaign, in that insulin therapy could surely help many type 2's out there who are currently suffering less-than-optimal BG control. It's just a bit of a shock to see a YouTube channel look so similar to the actual campaign website. (Click back and forth and you'll see what I mean.)  Watch out what you wish for, ay?

Still I wouldn't hesitate to send many type 2's I know over to view these videos. Everyone loves a personal story they can relate to — especially us PWDs.

What are your thoughts?  Worried about social media becoming overrun with commercial interests?  Or are you just glad to have more diabetes resources available for free in a place where anyone can access them?


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