The Light of Truth

A successful new product launch drives the growth in pharmaceutical companies A new brand rollout requires a lot of preparation; it’s like planning a wedding!

I was handling one such new drug that was to be launched with big fan-fare. As a brand manager, I was working hard day and night, meeting deadlines, getting all the promotional material in place, coordinating with various agencies, making presentations, getting the work done from various departments…. And finally, it was the D-day.

We were all set to launch the new brand to our internal audience ie first batch of sales team. For this mega launch, the CEO of the company along with the heads of various departments, the brand and the sales team had checked in the hotel, the evening before the launch.

After overseeing all the launch arrangements in the hotel,  and ensuring that everything was as per the plan, I finally retired to my room.

Before calling it the day, I decided to have a look at my power point presentation and the brand promotional material. As I was flipping through the visual aid pages, I spotted a spelling error on page 3. Visual aid is the most important marketing tool for pharmaceutical marketing professionals as it contains the promotional communication for the brands. A spelling error on a visual aid which would be used by the sales team, day in and day out for at least a quarter, was a blasphemy. I was sweating on a cold winter evening.

Till then I believed that my real strength was attention to detail. I was proud of myself for being meticulous. And here a spelling error was staring back at me from the visual aid. I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing. How could I miss it? How did it happen? There were so many people who had seen this visual aid in its various stages of production and nobody noticed this error?

One thought that was taking shape and form was to ignore it and hope that nobody noticed it too. But I knew that sooner or later, somebody would spot this error.

The second thought was to tell the Marketing Manager about it. But how would I face him? This spelling error translated into negligence and embarrassment. It had cost implications and even a job could be at stake.

I paced up and down nervously in my room. It was like caught between the devil and the deep sea! I thought and thought and with every passing second, I was getting gripped firmly by anxiety, panic and fear. I had never felt this terrible before…

I reached for a glass of water. It calmed me a bit and I realized that I have two choices… to tell the truth or to hide it for the time being. But a bit more introspection revealed that I actually had only one choice and that was to tell the truth.

Without wasting a moment, I called up my boss and told him about the goof-up. I was expecting him to blow his top and go ballistic, any moment. He surprised me by asking me for the solution to the problem at hand. I told him that a sticker of the correct word can be a quick-fix solution. He okayed my suggestion and shooed me to get acting on it. After sharing the truth with the boss, I was so relieved. I realized that once exposed, a secret loses all its power!

It was 10 in the night and I called the Printing Agency. The manager at the Printing Agency understood the gravity of the situation and arranged to get the stickers printed immediately in the night shift.

A ringing door bell woke me up in the morning. Standing outside were two workers from the Printing Agency. They had a small pack of stickers in their hand and requested me to hand over the visual aids to them, so that they could hide that obnoxious word with the sticker. Relief washed over me in the form of an awesome wave.

The brand roll-out was a big success. The strategies, the promotional inputs, the media plan was well received by the entire team. I was glad that nobody ‘noticed’ the sticker. I smiled and was about to thank God and the Marketing Manager and the Printing Agency, when the CEO came over to me. He congratulated me for putting up a super show, and I was beginning to float on cloud nine. And then he said, “I hope you know that God is in the details”.

Two lessons were learnt that day. Little details have special talents in creating big problems and our biggest fear is not in expressing the truth but that we will be attacked or belittled because of our truth. But we must still go ahead and spread the light of truth.

Have you seen the benefit of telling the truth in your own life?

This post is written for Indiblogger and Kinley 2014 TVC