Advertising Photographer in the Pharmaceutical Industry


The best advertising photographers make consumers feel good about a brand and influence decisions through imagery. Consumers see advertising photography across multiple channels and, over time, identify with even the newest products.

More than ever, today's companies want to distinguish themselves. They want their brand to stand out and be recognized. Advertisers have moved away from the days of stock photography and are now hiring photographers to create their distinct brands. Since anyone, anywhere, can use stock photography, it dilutes strong brand messaging.

Because pharmaceutical advertisers didn’t differentiate between brands in the past, pharmaceutical ads used to look a lot alike. Many companies understand this and now focus on creating identities with distinctive images and building photography portfolios that reflect their brand’s message.

Working with an experienced and highly-skilled advertising photographer is necessary to create beautiful, unique photographs that set your products apart and make your brand resonate with your target audience.

Selling a Lifestyle

Today, pharmaceutical advertising photographer knows how to sell a way of life, and lifestyle photography is about artistically capturing realistic events while making an emotional connection with an audience.

Because consumers seeking prescription medications are concerned about their health, or the health of a family member or loved one, they are often emotionally vulnerable. These consumers are looking for solutions to improve their situation and live a happy life.

An exceptional photographer specialized in lifestyle photography makes the emotional connection between your brand and a sought-after lifestyle. Photographs are relevant for healthcare in that they portray a way of life that consumers can aspire to if they decide to receive treatment. They show people enjoying activities that are both actionable and attainable, and audiences associate the lifestyle with your brand.

Brand Differentiation

The best way to differentiate your brand is to work with a lifestyle photographer who has experience and expertise in camera work as well as the ability to capture the beauty in everyday moments.

A talented lifestyle photographer can envision situations that appear authentic and tell your brand’s story in unique and positive ways. When audiences see real people enjoying real events, they can visualize themselves doing the same. They respond to the energy in the photographs and aspire to the lifestyle associated with them.

Experienced lifestyle photographers stay away from recognizable models. Models in pharmaceutical ads should look like real people — they should be diverse, relatable and every day. Plus, if consumers see a model in a competitor's ad, it will only dilute your brand and your message.

While different audiences identify with varying age groups, consumers start needing medication around the age 45. As your key demographic, it’s critical to use middle-aged to older people in pharmaceutical advertising photographs. Accomplished advertising photographers know how to work well with a wide demographic and various age ranges.


Why You Should Hire a Lifestyle Photographer For Your Pharmaceutical Ad Campaign

Marketing and advertising trends in the pharmaceutical industry are changing — and they need to. With promotional visits from pharmaceutical sales representatives decreasing, advertising efforts shift to be consumer-first, which makes working with a product photographer a must.

In the past, pharmaceutical sales representatives visited doctors' offices on a regular basis. Between 2000 and 2006, the U.S. pharmaceutical industry added thirty thousand sales representatives to its sales force. Unfortunately, this increase in sales visits became a burden on physicians’ schedules. By 2010, twenty percent of all physicians in the U.S. became less accessible to pharmaceutical sales representatives.

As providers began to schedule more patients each day, promotional meetings no longer fit into their time constraints. Pharmaceutical representatives started to get squeezed out and needed to rethink their sales strategies.

Although the roles of sales representatives won't completely disappear, they’ll become more specialized. By interacting with physicians virtually and digitally, as well as by phone, they’ll be able to share reliable product content efficiently and conveniently for all.

Pharmaceutical companies have traditionally spent significantly more money marketing to physicians than to consumers. In 2012, companies spent over 24 billion dollars marketing to physicians while spending only three billion marketing directly to the consumer, a significant disparity. But as promotional meetings declined, pharmaceutical marketing budgets and strategies started to make the shift to consumer advertising.

Today, more pharmaceutical advertising strategies target the consumer. Commercial photographers specializing in lifestyle photography play a significant role in both traditional media and digital formats, such as websites and social media, creating customized brand messages that are consistent across marketing channels. They expertly create photographs that capture the brand’s image and reach consumers across multiple platforms.

Lifestyle photography has become more prevalent online, with 84 percent of all people in the U.S. using the internet and especially with 59 percent of those older than age 65 now online. Companies that advertise online are seeing a five to one return on investment, which is higher than advertising on television and other traditional channels. With FDA regulatory constraints on direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical marketing loosening, online advertising is a more viable option.

These considerations make digital and motion photography more critical to pharmaceutical advertising than ever before. With 80 percent of all online users searching the internet for healthcare and prescription information, pharmaceutical and healthcare companies need advertising photographers to connect consumers with their brands in unique ways.

1. Highlighting Products

Commercial photographers highlight products by associating them with lifestyles an audience connects with on a personal and emotional level. Three types of pharmaceutical advertisements incorporate lifestyle photography in their message. These include:

  • Product-claim advertisements. Product claim ads communicate both the benefits and the risks of the product.

  • Reminder advertisements. Reminder ads offer the name of the product without any additional information. They believe target audiences already understand the product’s benefits and risks.

  • Help-seeking advertisements. Help-seeking ads discuss a medical condition but not the product. Ads encourage consumers to reach out to their physicians for help. They may display the product name and a toll-free number to call for more information.

We know that consumers look at images of happy people and believe the product will help them achieve that, too. But for pharmaceutical photographer to make the products compelling, the images need to incorporate some essential elements. Product photographs need to:

  • Be noticeable, memorable and believable.

  • Provide a personal and emotional connection with the consumer.

  • Show ways the consumer’s life will be better, and they can be happier.

  • Represent a set of values.

  • Be distinctively tied to a brand.

2. Conveying Product Safety

Safety and trust go together. To feel safe using your products, consumers need to trust your brand implicitly.

Likewise, your audience needs to relate to the images you put out there. Commercial photographers need to create images that apply to the consumer’s life and are both captivating, convincing and trustworthy.

Audiences can be skeptical. For example, baby boomers, a critical demographic in pharmaceutical advertising, are less trusting than Gen Xers or millennials. Baby boomers have had more life experience with advertising and have seen a lot of tricks and industry changes. To gain their trust, brand messaging needs to be clear, concise and relevant.

The best way to build trust is to communicate reliability and consistency. When consumers take the step to buy your product, they need to see quality so they can validate their purchase. Product testing and focus groups are great ways to ensure the quality of your products.

Consistency sets up consumer expectations. Imparting a lasting message that consumers can relate to time and again will establish trust for years to come. How do you want to be identified? What traits do consumers to see in your ads? Whatever your core message may be, stay true to your brand’s image and incorporate that into your photography.

Pharmaceutical advertisements also need to follow specific regulations. The FDA and Prescription Drug Marketing Act require a balanced approach of listing potential benefits and risks when advertising pharmaceutical products.

Regulations typically apply only to product claim ads. Since reminder ads don’t list any benefits to begin with, you don’t need to balance them out with a list of risks.

The same goes for help-seeking ads — if done correctly, they’re not considered a pharmaceutical ad, so no regulations are necessary.

FDA regulations for product-claim ads must include:

  • Both the brand and generic names of the drug.

  • At least one use of the drug that is approved by FDA.

  • The most severe risks associated with using the drug.

  • A balance between the drug’s benefits and risks.

  • A summary of all the risks.

3. Communicating Happiness

Lifestyle photographers convey the emotion of happiness through their images. Smiles do sell, and science backs it up. When people see others smiling, they parallel the expression. As humans, we’re merely wired this way.

Studies show that when consumers look at happy people in an ad, they also become happy. But happy photographs must look genuine or they don’t work. To be believable and appear authentic, pharmaceutical photographers create images with joyful people in realistic situations.

When consumers look at a photograph of people enjoying themselves, they also see the product favorably and feel solid about the brand. Once people associate a feeling with a brand, it leads to purchasing decisions. If a consumer has a positive attitude about your brand, they are more likely to choose your products over those they associate with negative feelings or no emotions at all.

4. Educating the Public

When you educate the public about health conditions and the products that treat them, you create awareness and empower consumers. You give people the opportunity to make decisions about their healthcare instead of having to depend on doctors' recommendations.

Pharmaceutical companies educate the public online by providing comprehensive information regarding medical conditions and possible solutions for treatment. Health-related information is one of the most common online searches, and more than 50 percent of those searches are meant to help others.

People search for medical problems, diseases, treatments, procedures and more. In fact, more than 48 percent of patients search for conditions on the internet before consulting their doctor.

5. Additional Consumer Benefits

Educating consumers about your product also encourages people to talk to their physicians about their health. Twenty-seven percent of people in the U.S. reported an advertisement motivated them to see their healthcare provider about a new condition. Even if nothing is prescribed, this interaction can be helpful, as it encourages discussions with physicians about positive lifestyle changes.

Most medical professionals believe that advertising to consumers is beneficial. Because targeting the consumer spreads awareness and information, physicians report they have more productive conversations with their patients and believe patients are more focused on their wellbeing. With new knowledge, empowered patients motivate physicians to evaluate medical conditions that may have gone undiagnosed.

Studies show that a quarter of all patients who visited their doctors after seeing an advertisement came home with a newly diagnosed condition. More than 40 percent of those conditions were regarded as serious. What's more, when patients ask physicians about prescription drug treatment, it turns out they have the condition the drug treats nearly 90 percent of the time.


Brand Communication and Commercial Product Photography

Consumers form a relationship with your brand and associate it with ways to keep their families healthy and happy. For that relationship to take place, photographers need to create images that forge an emotional connection.

This emotional aspect of lifestyle photography is key to creating a successful brand. A recent study in Brazil — the fourth largest market for pharmaceutical products — looked at the types of ads that most empowered consumers to make healthcare decisions. Researchers differentiated between emotional ads, informative ads and ads that combined both approaches.

Results showed the ads blending information with emotion were most effective, with emotional ads the next best option. They concluded that the most dynamic way to empower consumers is to motivate them emotionally with ads that are meaningful and offer information benefiting their health. The same group of researchers later replicated these results in the U.S.

Using digital channels like websites and social media is an effective way to communicate your brand to key patient groups. The most frequently searched healthcare topics online relate to certain diseases and medical issues, followed by procedures and treatments. Pharmaceutical companies have reported increasing online-educational opportunities for patient groups through branded websites, mobile apps and social media channels.

Contact Mark DeLong Photography for Your Product Photography Needs

Mark DeLong brings years of professional photography experience and expertise to the pharmaceutical industry. The creative artistry in his photographs transcends the beauty of everyday life, delivering distinctive brand messages that will resonate with your audience.

Along with his entire team, Mark focuses on every aspect of a project and understands the importance of the client-photographer relationship. Through his creative process, Mark brings product photographs to life and tells the story behind a brand, eliciting an emotional response.

If you’re in the pharmaceutical or healthcare industry and interested in building a distinct and exceptional brand-messaging campaign or visual portfolio, please contact artist representation.