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Beyoncé vs Paul Simon: achieving launch excellence

Beyonce and Paul Simon: both singer-songwriters of global fame. BUT with very different solo careers ... and a very different launch. Whether you’re a ready-made brand or just starting out from scratch, Client Partnership Director Isabelle Geoghegan has you covered.

Isabelle Geoghegan

Author: Isabelle Geoghegan

Client Partnership Director

Date posted: 02/03/2022

Beyoncé and Paul Simon may both be global superstars, but their similarities end there. Their solo careers are very different, with two very different (career) launches.

But if you had to choose, which one would you rather be?

‘Ready made’ vs. ‘from scratch’

Imagine you are Beyoncé. You would benefit from coming from a band with a household name. People know you, and are excited to hear from you. All your promotional channels are regularly visited and amplified. Yes, skill is still required for your music to stand up to the hype, but you already have an engaged fanbase ready to consume.

Now, imagine you are a young Paul Simon, your solo launch mostly made via a long hard trudge around the clubs of Northern England. Yes, you will both be considered world-class solo musicians in the future. But your journeys to get there will be decidedly different.

Let’s apply the same situation to the pharma industry, where not all products will emerge to the same level of fanfare.

The good news is, idiosyncratic patient responses to drugs mean variety will always be necessary. And even the most poorly launched drugs will eventually find their place. But to make that place a successful one, you will have to work differently.

The enthusiasm conundrum

Brand enthusiasm is necessary for good marketing – but it can lead even the best marketers astray. And ambition is critical to success – but it has to be the right type of ambition.

For your product to be successful, its launch must:

  • Provide a clear reason and place for its use
  • Elevate your brand
  • Be appropriate for your brand’s ambition

While Beyoncé will instantly be invited to promote her new solo project on TV, Paul Simon has to find the right audience himself. He will play as many gigs as possible to build up his fanbase, person by person.

Luckily, there is no need to tout new pharmaceuticals around the clubs of Northern England to find out where they fit in the world. But they will still need a well-planned launch to reach Beyoncé’s levels of accolade.

4 steps to ‘launch excellence’

  1. Find a critic

Get an outsider, such as your agency partner, to pressure test your internal plans, thoughts, assumptions and ambitions. This must be someone you trust, who understands both pharma and product launches, and isn’t afraid of asking difficult questions. If they’re sceptical, then you should be too.

  1. Commission proper research

Too many brands do too little research into the fundamentals of physician behaviour. To launch successfully, you must fully understand the market’s drivers and unmet needs – which requires professional market research.

  1. Find your ‘niche’

The better defined your niche, the greater your chances of success. It can be a patient type, care situation, risk factor, or something else entirely – a niche doesn’t need to be small. It must be big enough to satisfy your brand’s ambition. And whatever it is, it needs to be something you can ultimately own.

  1. Get focused

One of the biggest drawbacks for an exciting launch is having many good ideas, but not enough budget. If this is the case, focus all your money and resources to bring only the best ideas to life and do them justice.

The best possible chance

Even if you follow all the steps, launch excellence still requires a robust plan and seamless execution. The good news is, these things are completely within your control, either internally or via your launch agency. And, once they’re in place, they can be relied on as ‘givens’. Working collaboratively with the right experienced partner means giving your product – and your brand – the best chance possible.

Whether your product is Beyoncé or Paul Simon, a successful launch will always depend on finding the right place in the right customers’ minds. Something both artists knew, and worked towards - ultimately becoming the best in their fields.

Do you want to know how to create a successful launch? To find out more about communications that actually work, visit our Purple Health page here or contact


Isabelle Geoghegan is Client Partnership Director at Purple, overseeing our global and UK healthcare clients and driving them forward strategically and creatively to ensure our clients’ brands make the impact they deserve to make. She has over 10 years' healthcare agency experience, and has worked with some of the biggest pharmaceutical companies on everything from blockbuster oncology launches, to challenger brands in the cardiovascular space.