Actelion Pharmaceuticals Employee Engagement Campaign

A competitive culture engaged through gamification.

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Actelion is a leading biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of innovative drugs for diseases with significant unmet medical needs.The Company was preparing for the launch of a new drug called Uptravi, a treatment for pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) to delay disease progression and reduce the risk of hospitalization for PAH.

Our Assignment—Educate and Engage Employees About PAH and Uptravi

Our immediate objective was to stimulate engagement of Actelion employees by driving early excitement and education of PAH and Uptravi. To do this, we needed to first understand:

  • Actelion’s Culture. Actelion’s internal communications leadership onboarded our team to better understand their culture—how they think, work, and play. We learned that the Actelion culture was competitive, and they liked to work hard and have fun. We analyzed the types of communications channels and vehicles that have been effective in the past. We also needed a quick education around the disease, PAH and the treatment, Uptravi.
  • Product knowledge. Internal communications and product leadership immersed our team into a technical medical discussion about PAH as a disease, Uptravi as a treatment and recent outcomes, and to explore multiple perspectives for why Actelion’s employees should care about the upcoming release of Uptravi.
  • Employee Audience Profiles. We closely examined the employee audience to identify nuances between age, generation, and role and responsibility. This enabled a segmentation and planning for targeted content.
  • Measures of Success. We guided Actelion’s internal communications leadership through discussions to understand what the campaign must communicate, what actions they want employees to take, and ultimately what would define success.
  • Resources & Constraints. Every company and project has constraints. We identified (and worked around) regulatory and compliance review requirements, limited access to enhance the Intranet experience, use of global internal resources, limited existing source material or content, limited channels, tools and technology.

Thematic Concept, Messaging Strategy & Visual Center

From these insights we developed a campaign theme, explored new communication channels, created a messaging platform, and produced a lot of creative to engage a workforce around a common theme. MORE IS POSSIBLE was created as the campaign theme to communicate the mission of the Company, the overall outlook of its culture, and fit within the constraints of FDA approval and regulation. To develop our message strategy we worked through key message points and their hierarchy to align with Actelion’s objectives. This document acted as a guide to develop campaign content. In parallel, we developed a Visual Center deliverable to explore and align the campaign’s brand identity from colors and fonts, to infographic styles and imagery direction.

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Channels, Tactics & Vehicles

The core campaign tactics were designed to provide both education and inspiration to employees, connecting them closer to the innovation behind Uptravi and Actelion’s capability to provide quality outcomes. The campaign was launched through an all staff kick off event that drove excitement for what was to come: 10 weeks of learning, fun, and competition through a gamified experience, with weekly winners and prizes, a number of other events which included:

  • Medical professionals discussing PAH and Uptravi potential impact.
  • Townhalls with patients to learn about the struggle with the disease.
  • Actelion’s Uptravi product team discussing the journey to FDA approval and beyond.
  • PH Awareness Month participation and fundraising events.

This culminated in a final event in late December 2015 where Actelion celebrated Uptravi’s FDA approval. The channels, tactics, and vehicles we used throughout the campaign included:

  • Email. We wrote and designed several emails to communicate campaign information and communications, notification about upcoming events, and announcement of weekly winners. The cadence of emails was aligned to the editorial calendar we developed, which guided when we sent and when we followed up. Each email template was designed to keep email content short and leverage visual communication.

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  • Intranet. We designed a set of homepage ad units to promote the campaign and drive activation throughout the campaign.
  • Microsite. Responsively designed, this microsite acted as the hub for all campaign communications, providing more information about PAH and Uptravi, event calendar with notifications. Additionally, as a core driver behind the campaign, we developed a gamification experience using an interactive quiz product, released weekly over ten weeks with weekly winners and prizes. The site also included a leaderboard feature to drive healthy competition within the walls of Actelion and encourage employees to come back to the site to see weekly results.

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  • Events. Together, we had a constant stream of events acting as a vehicle to bring people together to learn and engage. The first event was a kickoff event to announce the campaign and all it would involve over the next few months. We ensured that the next 2-3 months included at least one or two employee events (i.e. PAH Awareness month) to learn and several smaller events to support engagement (i.e. bake sale, medical product presentations). The final event was a celebration hosted on-site at HQ inclusive of great food, entertainment, and a gameshow-like experience to celebrate the weekly winners of the quiz along with the grand finale winner.

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  • Workplace Disruptions. We designed campaign content in the form of clings that were installed on walls, windows, floors, and stairs around the office. In addition, where we found opportunity we developed short form campaign branded content to be displayed as environmental signage and on all digital displays in the lobby, bistro and in other selected areas throughout the building.

Celebrating Approval

The More Is Possible campaign achieved its measures of success. Employees across the Company gained a much better understanding of the impact Actelion’s innovations have on the PAH community (which has been traditionally underserved). The campaign reminded employees of their common purpose and received positive feedback through the use of post campaign surveys.  


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