PM360 2018 Trailblazer Awards Unbranded Campaign Winner Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation and Klick Health

The Wrestler (Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, Klick Health)

If you need to grab the attention of patients who believe they have exhausted all possible diagnoses, but are still suffering, there may be few images more captivating and memorable than a tiny professional wrestler with an over-the-top attitude and outsized ability to wreak havoc on stomachs. So to grab the attention of those suffering from carcinoid syndrome, Novartis cast aside the old pharma marketing playbook and turned to comedic dropkicks and body slams.

Carcinoid syndrome is an ultra-rare condition with symptoms that can include flushing, diarrhea, bloating, stomach pain, and irregular heartbeat. Because these symptoms are extremely nonspecific, the journey to getting an accurate diagnosis is often long and painful—taking an average of five to seven years. Along the way patients typically receive numerous inaccurate diagnoses and, after years of struggle, many simply give up their search.

Novartis and Klick Health developed “The Wrestler” campaign to aid the diagnosis of unrecognized carcinoid syndrome by targeting patients. They consulted IBM Watson and similar data sources to retrospectively identify the “typical” path(s) to diagnosis, specifically looking for commonalities and patterns of misdiagnosis. They learned that people often received a misdiagnosis of IBS or IBD, leading them to believe that all other explanations had first been considered. This directly informed the call to action—that there are other diagnoses that may not been considered and to learn more, visit

The Wrestler lives across an ecosystem that has included addressable TV; over 20 unique, live action programmatic and endemic display ads; special cuts of the commercial for social media; and a microsite. In just eight months, website visits exceeded internal targets by 200%, visits to GI specialists exceeded targets by 3.5x, and the number of people receiving treatment for carcinoid syndrome increased by 11x compared to the same period the previous year.


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