Thousand Oaks, Calif. – Enter stage left. Headaches. They come in all shapes and sizes and can, in most cases, be pinpointed to how they started. Dehydration – head injury – over indulgence: whatever the reason, we can point back, solve the mystery and easily treat with a myriad of over the counter options. Two-four hours later (on average) – symptoms reduce or completely disappear.

Enter stage right: Migraines. They come in differing levels of severity with very few sufferers being able to pinpoint what ‘triggered’ the migraine. Auras – vomiting – extreme pain – sensitivity to light: and very few over the counter options work. 24-48 hours later (on average) – symptoms reduce, but linger for up to seven days.

An often-misunderstood disorder, experts have been trying to figure out this debilitating disorder for longer than I have been alive. In fact, according to statistics, over 37 million people in the US. suffer from migraines. Current population estimates – that is about 13 percent of the population – with 2 to 3 million sufferers categorized as chronic. And even more staggering, women make up 73 percent of the total of sufferers, and are often misdiagnosed and misunderstood.

Enter center stage: Amgen and Novartis. While several companies have come before them, this dynamic duo teamed up and launched a new campaign called ‘Speak Your Migraine’.This new campaign sets to help bring awareness to and create a differentiating conversation around the disorder. By removing the ‘S’, the new lexicon brings a new light around it not being a series of attacks, rather, a disorder that is something much more serious than headaches.

"It is a long-term disabling disease that can profoundly impact someone's ability to carry out everyday activities like attending family events or going to work. That is why we also set out change the lexicon around migraine.” - Carly Baron, executive director of neuroscience U.S. marketing at Amgen.

The two brands relied heavily on Facebook and the migraine groups that have formed on the popular platform by tapping into how they felt about their disorder, treatment and the ability to talk about living with migraine.

You can read more about this new campaign, originally reported here on MM&M.

Why This Matters – 

As several migraine prevention medications sit in clinical trials, the timing of this campaign could be perfect as companies like Amgen and Novartis are crossing all of their fingers and toes for a speedy FDA approval. And as a migraine sufferer myself, I cannot wait for the day to not only find a better preventer, but also be more easily understood in my journey as I live with this life altering disorder.

Changing the lexicon is always tough, but in this digital age we live in, the tools and platforms are there to make it happen. These brands are taking advantage of not only timing, but also several shifting expectations – the evolution of the micro-influencer as well as bringing more awareness of proper diagnosis in women.

Micro-influencers of all ages are showcasing their muscle by being more and more relied upon when it comes to the pharmaceutical industry.  Often operating in private groups on social platforms, these individuals find solace within people that have similar symptoms.  The conversations are more honest and open and brands can not only learn a lot more from them, but also leverage them to help become brand ambassadors.

Improper diagnosis is nothing new, however, a shift we’re following is the emergence of women being taken more and more seriously for the symptoms they present. With women making up more than 73 percent of all of the migraine sufferers in the U.S., this campaign can help bring light not only to migraine, but also help improve conversations between physicians, patients and caregivers. 

You can read more about these two shifting expectations as well as many others in our annual trend report series here.

About the Author:

As Strategist of Innovation, Drew is charged daily with championing innovative thinking and doing. Drew is part of a global team that leads new innovative ideas that attract different advocates among existing and potential brands that are shared across all agency partners. Drew is backed by over 16 years of brand, sales and marketing experience with Fortune 500 companies such as Progressive and Nationwide Insurance as well as Founder & President of his own healthcare insurance agency for 6 years. Most recently Drew was part of the agency team that launched Briviact for UCB, Foundation Medicine as well as key roles with Eli Lilly Oncology and Johnson & Johnson.