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[Serious] Is working in pharma really that bad?

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No, it’s really not! There are a few shops out there who are working really hard to change that stigma and producing some really cool pharma work. Look, it’s never going to be Nike or Skittles but it’s not nearly as bad as you hear. Plus the pay is way better, and there’s always positions. It’s all about your people and your team. It can be really amazing or really awful (as can non-pharma).

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@CW2 Lol I kinda feel like advertising has already stripped me of my soul. Maybe I could buy it back?

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@CW2 my current shop isn’t producing much in the way of fun, creative work. I’m underpaid and haven’t seen my SO in a week. I’m honestly beginning to rethink whether or not chasing lions is for me

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Kids, pharma should only be approached as a last resort (when you're older), and even then only as a freelancer so you get paid hourly, to work seven days a week. Brainstorming about cancer everyday is a horrible drain. The money is NOT better, unless you count that pharma gigs will typically keep you around longer as they are always pitching something (and usually have five teams on a pitch). That said, go ahead and take pharma gigs at any age, just don't tell anybody about it.

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For writers I believe most pharma is limiting to the point of making the job deadly dull. And I like working on complex businesses, not skittles .

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Pharma has big budgets, long timelines and often shoots in cool locations. It's not that sexy, but it has it's perks.

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“Often shoots in cool locations” - this is not true

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Area 23, Hill Holliday NY, Heartbeat, Digitas Health, Saatchi Wellness--all are pretty creative and not a bad place to hang your hat.

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OP remember to take all of this with a grain of salt. Every agency, every space, every shop has issues. I can’t speak to what some people think of pharma, I can say there is a big bias. I can also say that in my time in pharma I worked with a team that was truly incredible, supportive, and talented. I’ve written in a lot of spaces from cancer to women’s health. The cancer is admittedly dull, but it pays the bills, and my team makes it less so. The pitches and all the extras have always been amazing.

That said, I’ve also been on another pharma oncology team that made me decide to go to a new shop. You just have to find what works for you. It’s not for everyone, but (for most) it’s not the soul sucking experience it’s made out to be. Don’t let a few self-righteous “ad men” tell you any one space is better than the other. Good luck!

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In the end of the day, consumer and pharma are fairly similar. You have a product or service, and your job is to sell it. That being said, pharma does have more limitations than consumer. You can’t say everything you want, and it’s really hard to get some things past the FDA (or client as they’re all afraid of FDA letters). Some shops are better at pushing the limit than others. Is pharma getting more things through than ever before? Yes. Will you do your best conceptual work here? Maybe. Probably not. But there is something to be said that your problem-solving skills are going to be miles ahead what they once were. Also, most people who work in pharma are genuinely nice people. And... you’ll get paid better when jumping around, but expect the same raises internally as you’re moving up as consumer.

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I’ve done it- it’s far worse for writers than anyone else.

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it's mindless, a complete design by comittee (usually legal), and usually extrodinarily rascist and sexist...

how so, if you have ever heard the the discussions of how they pick talent, it would make you stomach turn. yes this is all advertising, but for some reason it's way amped in pharma.

when you consider that it's at minimun a few million to just get something through the FDA, the stakes are very high, so it is reduced to the most banal, precise, manipulating, and lowest common denominator of all advertising.

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@CW1 which shops?

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What makes you think you want to switch to this side? (If it’s to continue writing creatively, I can tell you those jobs are few and far between)

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"I believe." So you don't work in pharma yet. If Ogilvy is so great right now, what are you up to in the pharma bowl? And if by "complex businesses", you must mean b-list B2B work that barely ever sees the light of day. The only thing keeping the lights on in NY. I'll take my blockbuster drug over that, thanks!

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It’s not that bad.

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Was pretty rough for the time I spent on it. Also you are at least 1 level less "senior" if you only have consumer experience, so the money is not necessarily even better, alas. Having said that, I've been totally striking out as a freelancer and may give pharma another go...

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Going through the same thought process OP... @SC1 your post gives me hope lol any thoughts on GSW?

For pharma gigs writers have a big hand in the upfront concepting and idea set-ups, but the headlines and body copy (in pharma they do print...a lot...which is sort of relaxing) come straight from the brief.

Sc 1, I haven’t done pharma and wasn’t attacking those who do. As Leo Burnett says above, it seems tough on writers. I’ve worked lots on financial services which has many rules, but to me pharma looks like a much tighter box regarding what you can say, and how. I also do think there are a lot of ethical issues with how many drugs are sold. I’ve tried to avoid those on my other work, not always successfully, but that would be another consideration .

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https://youtu.be/6igElOW4hUA

Praying for another Wiener stampede this year

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If you were lucky enough to get a job at Wieden, is it expected that you would get a drastic pay cut?

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