Raising Awareness, Breaking Barriers: Black History Month and Pharma Advertising

February 6, 2024

Authored by Marta Godoy Harding, Senior People Partner

Raising Awareness, Breaking Barriers: Black History Month and Pharma Advertising

Black History Month serves as a crucial time to reflect on the achievements and contributions of the Black community. It presents a pivotal opportunity for pharma companies to go beyond their economic influence and play a significant role in shaping public health narratives. During this period, and throughout the year, there is a unique opportunity for these companies to authentically align their marketing efforts with the spirit and substance of Black History Month.

Contextual advertising can serve as a powerful tool in demonstrating support for the Black community, fostering trust and loyalty through ongoing healthcare education and community initiatives. By celebrating the strides made in healthcare during Black History Month, we underscore the importance of working toward a future where robust healthcare and well-being are accessible to all. Ultimately, this month propels us towards a more inclusive healthcare future, where diversity is not just acknowledged but celebrated.

Pharmaceutical companies represent a significant voice in society. This year, in the U.S. alone, pharma and healthcare companies will spend an estimated $19.66 billion on digital advertising. Last year, pharma overtook tech to become the second-largest ad sector. Notably, the industry is going deeper and deeper on digital, in acknowledgement that these channels are where their current and future customers are spending most of their media time.

Pharma’s relatively measured embrace of digital channels to date has reflected the heightened privacy and regulatory concerns that come along with audience targeting in a dynamic landscape. This makes the nuanced use of contextual advertising crucial. Given the sensitive nature of health-related advertising, ethical considerations, such as respecting patient privacy and avoiding exploitation, are paramount. Contextual advertising aids pharma companies in engaging with diverse audiences and contributing to meaningful conversations.

Let’s explore ways in which pharma companies can meaningfully align their marketing strategies with Black History Month through contextual advertising.

The Power of Contextual Advertising During Black History Month

Before delving into the nuances of advertising around as important a cultural event as Black History Month, it's essential for pharma companies to understand the significance of the month itself. This month is not only about acknowledging historical figures but also recognizing the diverse experiences, achievements, and needs of the Black community. It's a time to celebrate resilience, progress, and cultural richness. By recognizing and respecting this context, pharma companies can better tailor their marketing messages to resonate in a meaningful way.

The effectiveness of contextual advertising for pharma companies during Black History month is evident in several ways:

  • Brands looking to align with Black History Month should be doing just that—aligning and supporting, not distracting. By delivering ad experiences based on the content that the audience is consuming, pharma companies can ensure their messaging and stories are appearing in a welcome space, at a time when people are tuned into topics that are pertinent to Black History Month.
  • Given that contextual advertising delivers ads based on content signals rather than personal identifiers, pharma companies can avoid tricky regulatory areas related to audience targeting and personal privacy. This is especially important when it comes to sensitive areas like health and race.
  • Contextual advertising unlocks greater opportunities to provide and drive attention to richer content experiences, knowing the audience is consuming related content and more likely to be receptive to deeper education and insights on a given topic.

For pharma companies, it’s worth noting that Black consumers are incredibly cognizant of the brands they support. Two-thirds (67 percent) of Black consumers in the U.S. say that they look to buy from brands that support the Black community, and more than half (51 percent) try to buy exclusively from purpose-driven brands. This consumer behavior underscores the potential for increased brand loyalty and market share for pharma companies that authentically engage with these values.

Demonstrating True Community Support During Black History Month

Showing up for Black History Month is about more than surface-level messaging. As pharma companies develop their contextual ad strategies for the month, and the materials to support them, here are a few key considerations to keep in mind.

Cultural Sensitivity in Content Creation: Pharma companies should prioritize cultural awareness, relevance, and sensitivity when creating and promoting content for Black History Month. That means avoiding clichés while simultaneously highlighting the positive impact of medical advancements on the Black community, as well as the pivotal role of Black individuals in achieving those advancements. Sharing success stories of individuals who have overcome health challenges or emphasizing the importance of healthcare access can be powerful narratives in February.

Showcasing Diversity in Clinical Trials: In February, pharma companies can leverage contextual advertising to raise awareness about the importance of diverse participation in clinical trials. Highlighting the representation of the Black community in these trials not only promotes inclusivity but also fosters trust in pharmaceutical research.

Community Engagement Initiatives: Contextual advertising can be leveraged to promote community engagement initiatives during Black History Month. Pharma companies can sponsor health-related events, workshops, or webinars that focus on addressing specific healthcare concerns within the Black community. By actively participating in and supporting community initiatives, and promoting such initiatives within contextual ad campaigns, pharma companies demonstrate a commitment to making a positive impact.

Amplifying Health Education: Black History Month provides an opportunity for pharma companies to amplify health education initiatives targeted to the Black community. Contextual ads can be used to share relevant health information, preventive measures, and resources within environments where consumers are likely seeking such resources. This not only adds value to the audience but also positions the pharma company as a source of reliable health information.

Collaborating with Influencers and Advocates: Building partnerships with influencers and advocates within the Black community can enhance the authenticity of pharma company marketing efforts. Contextual advertising can be used to amplify the voices of influencers who are actively involved in health advocacy. These partnerships can and should extend beyond Black History Month, fostering ongoing relationships that prioritize community well-being.

In conclusion, February presents a distinct opportunity for pharmaceutical companies to effectively connect their marketing endeavors with the significance of Black History Month through contextual advertising.

By prioritizing consistent healthcare education and community engagement initiatives, pharma companies can cultivate trust and loyalty within the Black community.

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