Lilly battles multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis.

Print and online materials help tell the story.

Leaders are trained to focus on the human element.

The Human Story Behind A Deadly Disease

Multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is a complex disease that has been fought by many but conquered by few. Its growth is on the rise, especially in developing nations. Global pharmaceutical manufacturer Lilly is taking it head-on—and doing a lot more than just writing checks. Its Global Health Program (GHP) sponsors comprehensive, on-the-ground programs that battle MDR-TB through a wide variety of NGOs, patient organizations, and charities.

But with so many moving parts, it was a hard story to tell. So instead of focusing on complicated treatment terminology, Lilly turned the spotlight on the good stuff: how these programs go beyond medicine to make people’s lives better. Lilly transformed both the content and the delivery of its communications with one goal in mind: translate the scientific and logistical complexity of the GHP into a simpler, more human message.

Lilly started with a creative approach to market research and learning what messages connected with its audiences. It designed and built an interactive storytelling booth for its conferences to find out which messages would resonate most. Lilly crunched the numbers and determined the hottest topics (e.g., MDR-TB drug pricing, access to medicines, and physician prescribing and monitoring), and then it created compelling print and online materials for all sorts of audiences, both inside and outside the company. Lilly trained its leaders on how to dump the techno-medical lingo and even hosted storytelling workshops to help stakeholders share the GHP experience. Turns out, one of the best ways to fight a deadly lung disease was to start by changing hearts and minds.