Brands are constantly challenged with a diverse magnitude of crises that erupt from the evolving market dynamics and consumer needs . Some brands are able not only to survive a crisis but also navigate it into a PR win, emerging stronger than ever, while others are destroyed, forced into a merger or even an exit. Between brand familiarity and brand favourability, lies their ability to leverage these crises. The Brandberries has exclusively interviewed Nibal Dahaba, Egypt, Sudan and Eritrea’s General Manager of Sanofi Pasteur, for her take on navigating a brand crisis.


BB: Sanofi Pastuer is  one of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical brands with a huge global presence, multiple vaccines portfolios and a complex organizational structure. With such givens, the company is not new to crisis situations. Can you give us some insights on Sanofi pastuer’s guidelines for effective crisis management?

ND:Actually this strategy has multiple channels that we work on  including but not limited to Crisis monitoring with real time alerts,  accurate and speedy risk detection, continuous Online Moderation & social media , Social Risk Defense which leads to Fast, accurate and 24/7 Brand Protection.

In addition to our continuous monitoring  system that works  on  Detecting  Negative Online Reviews , Product Reviews & Customer Feedback.

Basically we can sum it up in a few clear tactical steps : take responsibility , be proactive , transparent & accountable , get ahead of the story , get ready to go viral , first investigate , apologize if any fault is on our end and subsequently take action , always have compliance , medical on top of your crisis management team and last but not least always remember that we only operate across different countries for the sake of the patients and humans , always have them as your main focus.

BB: Crisis management has long been an important issue for the healthcare industry, especially with the continued rise in popularity of social media, the thing that has made the situation even more complex. Please comment with your take on how healthcare brands, in specific, should address their virally-blasted crises on social media. Brands work in different cultural contexts. Does cultural differences affect crisis management?

ND: For sure culture is one of the main criteria affecting crisis management across health care sector in addition to other criteria that is quite related to culture and geographical presence. Those other criteria includes illiteracy rates in a specific region , unemployment rates , country national health spending   , country GDP and gender equality across this specific region as some of the crisis that we might face will be highly driven by this last factor depending on the culture.

Regarding how can we assess and handle a viral based crisis , its again applying all our general crisis management guidelines listed above , basically we should investigate the incident , assess , create our message and communicate it properly and very transparent with all the needed and expected actions from our side that would only target our patient’s safety and rights.

BB: It’s indisputable that brands who’d like to stay ahead of the game, should not only be navigating their crises as they occur but also anticipating them. Please explain with mentioning how can brands stay proactive with crises ?

NB: With our health or pharmaceutical sector actually it’s a given mandate that we anticipate the crisis , actually it’s a crucial part of our R&D ( research & development ) programs related to each product and that’s why reporting the side effects – even if very rare –  is an integral part of our manufacturing process and we cant finalize a product registration without this crucial item. That’s why – honestly  and not being  a biased to my industry – crisis in our sector related to  product safety profile are quite rare across the globe and usually if they happen its more related to misuse of the product or wrong applying  but not safety profiles as this safety and quality issues are audited very firmly and continuously monitored from us as multinationals and other top global associations as FDA & EMA.

BB: When it comes to CSR, Sanofi Pastuer is highly engaged in a wide range of programs implemented in every corner of the world. In your opinion, can CSR help save a brand during a crisis?

NB: CSR is part of our integral structure as an industry and a very important pillar representing our role giving back to the communities we serve , having said that we should highlight that  We never link any of our CSR activities or projects to any of our commercial operations including any brand crisis management techniques , actually they are two very separate entities with totally separate decision makers so back to your question no CSR is not linked what so ever to any of our brands or products.

BB: When managing a brands reputation, which side of the table are you on: having an in house PR team, or hiring a PR firm?

NB: Its always project dependent decision ,  you actually use a blend of both , usually we have an in-house communication and PR team and that’s a common trend and a very important pillar across the industry and this team are the ones handling external media stakeholders and they might hire an external PR agencies either on a retainer basis or on ad hock basis.