Product / ServiceNEULASTA
CategoryE02. Healthcare Professional
EntrantWARD6 Sydney, AUSTRALIA
Idea Creation WARD6 Sydney, AUSTRALIA


Name Company Position
Grant Foster Ward 6 Australia Creative Director
Brooke Harvey Ward 6 Australia Senior Art Director
Steve Samuel Ward6 Australia Senior Copywriter
Scott Davis Ward 6 Australia Strategy Director
Cathryn Berry Ward 6 Australia Group Account Director
Sam Karim Ward 6 Australia Group Account Director
Visual State Visual State Pty Ltd Image Developers

Why is this work relevant for Direct?

Neulasta is a prescription drug used to treat infection in chemotherapy patients. It’s been around for a long time and doctors felt they knew when to use it and when not to. Often, they chose not to because of its complex prescribing criteria. Using the idea of a walnut with a zipper, we broke through category conventions and used creativity to deliver a message of ease directly to Doctors. They took notice. The campaign led to a change in prescribing behaviour and smashed targets, helping more patients maintain their chemotherapy, which in turn saved lives.

Describe any restrictions or regulations regarding Healthcare/RX/Pharma communications in your country/region including:

In Australia, it is not possible to promote prescription medicines to consumers or in channels that are not directly targeted at healthcare professionals.

Describe the target audience and why your work is relevant to them.

Our target was medical oncologists and haematologists. They’re responsible for prescribing cancer supportive care medications, like Neulasta. Oncology (cancer) doctors are time poor, hard to reach, and operate in one of most crowded and complex areas. We needed a way to engage doctors in important news about Neulasta.


If doctors think a drug has value, they want it to be easy to prescribe. But historically, Neulasta had been anything but easy for them to consider. The drug indicated to reduce infection in chemotherapy treatment was buried in a history of complexity, with fifteen different Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme reimbursement codes for doctors to remember, limiting prescription behaviour. But this changed when the reimbursement criteria for Neulasta was simplified to just two codes, making it available, in theory at least, for all cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. The brief was to educate doctors that Neulasta was now accessible for this broader pool of patients. We needed to: - Break through the clutter of similar product and PBS messages about ‘simplicity’ or ‘ease’ and get the attention of time-poor, hard-to-engage oncologists and haematologists - Reinvigorate an ‘old’ brand that was back-of-mind amongst prescribers

Describe the creative idea (30% of vote)

Walnuts are extremely difficult things to crack. We needed an idea that suggested the removal of difficulty. So, we gave the walnut a zipper. This curious image said the most important thing we needed to say. Access to our drug was now easier. The tone was clean, simple and arresting.

Describe the strategy (20% of vote)

Neulasta wasn’t being broadly prescribed, despite being indicated for multiple cancer types. There were a number of key barriers. The PBS funding criteria for Neulasta had always been complex. There were fifteen different PBS codes for doctors to remember. A drug receiving an expanded PBS listing is not uncommon, and therefore not necessarily newsworthy. We had to fix that. We needed to cut through the clutter of messages similar to our own. Oncology is one of the most crowded markets in healthcare. Oncologists are time poor and hard-to-reach. A US report found 65% of oncologists put restrictions on visits from sales representatives. We chose to directly address the complexity barriers. In a creative way, we communicated that it was now easier to prescribe Neulasta for patients with any cancer type. We chose to use a non-pedagogical tone that would exude brutal ease and cut through.

Describe the execution (20% of vote)

We grabbed attention, educated and engaged doctors, using our walnut as an educational tool to deliver the clarity doctors needed. We sent unbranded teaser eDMs of our ‘walnut’ to doctors highlighting ‘access is about to become easier’. We did this to grab attention and build anticipation. We created direct mail education. But rather than “Dear Dr” mail, we sent a walnut image that doctors had to unzip to access the new PBS codes. And we created eDM communications that educated doctors that Neulasta is now listed for all cancer patients. We supported our message of ‘easier access’ by including new PBS codes via a free login to the PBS Codes app. We put ‘walnut’ education into rep e-detail aids, across company online assets and educational platforms. So rather than having a conversation with doctors using graphs, we started a conversation and managed to educate healthcare professionals using our ‘walnut’.

List the results (30% of vote)

The objective was 10% growth. We achieved 66% growth. This happened because there was a significant change in the way doctors thought about Neulasta. The perception of complexity was removed and more doctors prescribed it. The rapid uptake of Neulasta in the initial month of the campaign was the biggest in the 15-year history of Neulasta. This meant Neulasta was being used by more cancer patients than ever before, safeguarding them from infection. The walnut got doctors attention, with more open-rates on emails than emails sent, meaning doctors opened them multiple times to access PBS codes. Due to the rapid increase in sales in the first five months, sales targets were smashed, resulting in an ROI of 2,105% for every dollar spent. But it wasn’t just about money. The greater return was preventing more cancer patients becoming infected, meaning they could continue their chemotherapy, enabling their best chance to survive.