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Behind Ogilvy’s ‘Healthfluencer’ Strategy To Fend Off Medical Misinformation On Social Media


Behind Ogilvy’s ‘Healthfluencer’ Strategy To Fend Off Medical Misinformation On Social Media

Ad agency Ogilvy is rolling out a new business line that taps into the world of online health influencers as a way to help pharmaceutical companies connect with consumers and counter bogus medical information circulating on social media, the Financial Times reports.

The WPP-owned agency has assembled a division dedicated to vetting and deploying influencers – ranging from healthcare experts and physicians to “expert patients” with first-hand experience dealing with illnesses. 

The influencers will collaborate with pharma brands to discuss conditions, share credible guidance, and relay personal health journeys across platforms like Instagram and TikTok.

The move comes as people increasingly look to social media for quick medical advice, despite the abundance of unreliable and even dangerous content on these platforms. Around 25% of people now use social apps when researching healthcare, according to Ogilvy’s data. Yet much of the dermatology advice on TikTok comes from amateurs, not certified professionals. Vaccine misinformation also runs rampant, with around half of social posts deemed misleading.

“Authentic credibility has overtaken hard sales pitches when it comes to building trust,” Rahul Titus, Global Head of Influence at Ogilvy PR, told the Financial Times. He described health influence as marketing’s “new frontier.”

Stricter regulations govern how drug makers can directly market prescription products in most markets. But Ogilvy hopes its stable of influencers will be able to skirt certain rules by simply sharing educational content and personal stories – as long as they properly disclose sponsorships.

The initiative aims to provide a counterweight to unqualified “wellness” influencers who peddle questionable health advice and products on social media. As Ogilvy Health executive Caroline Howe puts it, “The family doctor is no longer the sole gatekeeper of medical information.”

Cecilia Carloni, Interview Manager at Influence Weekly and writer for NetInfluencer. Coming from beautiful Argentina, Ceci has spent years chatting with big names in the influencer world, making friends and learning insider info along the way. When she’s not deep in interviews or writing, she's enjoying life with her two daughters. Ceci’s stories give a peek behind the curtain of influencer life, sharing the real and interesting tales from her many conversations with movers and shakers in the space.

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