PM360 2019 Trailblazer Awards Marketer of the Year Debra Hagan

Debra Hagan, Director of CNS Marketing at Allergan

“An amazing natural born leader.” That’s how Christine Sakadalan, Head of Franchise Strategy and Customer Solutions, Janssen, describes Debra Hagan, Director of CNS Marketing at Allergan, and 2019’s Marketer of the Year. But there’s more. Much more.

“Debra is a highly competent and strategic marketer, a sincere, passionate advocate for patients—and a compassionate human being,” Sakadalan continues. “She strives for excellence in all she does and has a unique ability to bring people together toward a common mission.”

That’s all part of what keeps Debra light years ahead of her industry. She instinctively understands the importance and the effectiveness of activating audiences based on their unique needs and insights. She uses this insight to develop customer-centric solutions that drive brand demand and growth. At the same time, Debra identifies advanced ways to precisely target audiences at scale—and across various channels.

Holistic Innovation

Prior to her current role at Allergan, Debra helped trailblaze the implementation of direct-to-consumer advertising at Novo Nordisk. This evolved into holistic multi-stakeholder customer-centric solutions and practices for the organization. She then led the consumer strategy for the first ever multi-indication and multi-celebrity campaign for the cardiovascular franchise of indications on Xarelto at Johnson & Johnson, which was an innovative approach to help maintain brand growth in a very competitive market.

At Allergan, Debra is embracing advanced analytics to spearhead the implementation of this audience unification concept by clearly identifying the highest volume of opportunity with patients and healthcare professionals to activate and deliver brand solutions at the right place and right time to maximize revenue and improve patient outcomes.

Debra’s forward-thinking approach, has pushed the envelope beyond traditional media strategies. Instead of activating unique audiences on each channel (e.g., TV, digital, POC), Debra assessed her campaign targeting from a patient-first perspective. She clearly defined her brand’s target by using a broad data set comprised of healthcare claims, consumer attributes, and behaviors. This was not restricted to just demo and geo attributes, but also geared to avoid investment waste and make her dollars work harder for the organization. This allowed the brand to get a clearer, more detailed picture of the target audience and improve top line growth for multiple brands.

Using the defined target audience, Debra and her team invested in a data-driven TV planning platform to determine the highest value segments for Allergan’s TV campaign. Seeing how well the audience performed through TV advertising of Vraylar, which has grown over 100% in new-to-brand sales since launch of consumer advertising, the brand took a similar approach to digital. This campaign proved effective when optimizing towards the highest-likely to convert audience based on the data, and now the brand’s digital media plan is 100% programmatic and driving meaningful brand conversions.

Print ads for Vraylar are one part of a campaign that includes Debra’s combined DTC and HCP strategy—speaking empathetically directly to a patient’s symptoms, while offering useful information for HCPs as well.

Combining DTC and HCP Strategy

In addition to the channel integrations, Debra developed a combined DTC and HCP strategy. The team took great efforts to understand which doctors are treating the right patients, allowing the brand to develop corresponding messaging that is heard by the right audiences. Her team also considers their TV advertising both a DTC and HCP medium.

Advanced analytics are at the core of Debra’s strategy. She relies on data to understand media impact and has used an advanced analytics toolkit to adjust her brand strategy to achieve optimal investment levels. While audience unification and the use of advanced analytics are new to the industry, Debra has been a leader in supporting their implementation at Allergan and throughout her career—the very definition of a Trailblazer.


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