The Road to BIO was a 12-day speed-to-market campaign culminating at the BIO International Convention in San Diego. In line with the BIO 2017 theme of ‘breakthroughs,’ the journey mirrored the drug development pathway, highlighting the risk, costs and regulatory pressures our life science clients must consistently break through to bring products to market and deliver patient value.
Kicking off on June 8, 2017, the Road to BIO had 12 days to make it from the biotech hotbed of Cambridge, Massachusetts to the BIO 2017 host city of San Diego, California. Not only is the BIO International Convention the biotech industry’s largest annual event, but our vehicle was central to our exhibit design and needed to be parked in our booth no later than 10am on June 19, 2017, the first day of the show. While covering 5,000 miles in 12 days may have been a challenge in itself, we had committed to making 19 stops along the way to speak with innovators across the U.S. who are making breakthroughs in pharma and biopharma.
Driving our ‘molecule’ to market under such a strict timeline required a vehicle with the technology to navigate the course with speed and precision. After extensive research, we selected the 217-max-speed, 6,498cc-Lamborghini Aventator Roadster SV. With a 0-60 time of less than three seconds, we figured we had the speed component covered. And as it turned out, we did, with the exception of our support vehicle, a 33-foot RV that maxed out at 85 miles per hour.
The Road to BIO 2017 evolved from a small idea to a multi-faceted campaign that continues to take shape even in its aftermath. Sponsors of the Road to BIO not only gained exposure across the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical communities, but have several assets—including videos, written content and high-resolution photography—for their marketing use. Based on the success of the inaugural ‘Road to’ endeavor, we are already planning for a 2018 Road to CPhI Worldwide—a journey that would begin in New York and end at the show in Madrid.
+ 4,746 Miles Covered
+ 100 Hours of Driving
+ 33 Gas Stations Visited
+ 418 Gallons of Gas Purchased
+ 19 State Lines Crossed
+ 0 Speeding Tickets
+ 0 Flat Tires
Counterintuitive to what some may think when making a cross-country trip from Massachusetts to California, we opted for the southern route, making our way down the Eastern Seaboard to South Carolina, then turning west on our way through the Sun Belt. Taking into consideration the shortest distance while maximizing opportunities to meet with each of our Road to BIO sponsors, this route made the most sense, and allowed us to discover as many different regions of the country as we could within our time constraints.
Nigel Walker, Founder, Managing Director and the inspiration behind the Road to BIO, led the journey with Director of Digital Capture Brian Pierce as the creative co-pilot. Supporting from a project management perspective were Wei Gao, Accounts Director and Partner, and Eugene Hsiu, Project Manager. Business Logistics Manager Albert Bruan piloted the RV and, as Albert typically does, ensured all was in order until his departure in El Paso. Market Research Manager Govindra Singh joined the crew in Charleston, South Carolina, providing insight leading up to and through the convention. Executive Content Manager and Road to BIO on-air talent, Steve Kuehn, narrated the journey from the road, speaking with sponsors and the various people we encountered along the way.
As prepared as we could have been for a 19-state trek across the U.S., there were a number of potential roadblocks that, due to the nature of our vehicle, were beyond the safeguards of even the most extensive contingency planning. If we blew a tire, for instance, we couldn’t simply throw on a spare – we would need to change out the entire wheel, which we ordered two of before hitting the road. Fortunately, the challenges we faced were relatively few, and might be better described as inconveniences—a broken windshield wiper on day one, a traffic warning on day six, and a broken air conditioner in the RV midway through.
Leveraging the Pharma’s Almanac content community as the primary distribution outlet, the Road to BIO was promoted through a number of different creative channels spanning print, digital and web. The campaign continued to evolve even after the conclusion of the journey, with a post-trip video documentary and a written reflection of the story.
+ 4-page Road to BIO spread in the Q2 2017 issue of Pharma’s Almanac
+ Daily blog content promoted through Pharma’s Almanac and BIO
+ BIO social media support
+ Video of the Road to BIO airing at BIO 2017
+ Video interviews with sponsor executives on the trip route or at BIO 2017
+ E-blasts sent twice per day on all 12 days of the journey
+ 4-page post-trip spread in the Q3 2017 issue of Pharma’s Almanac
+ Road to BIO Challenge – an online game where players guessed the final stats of the trip
+ Post-trip Road to BIO documentary
+ Retrospective chapter-based article
The Road to BIO was a unique platform for sponsors to discuss their own journeys to launching a drug and garnered over 3 million impressions across the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical community.