Dear reader, be aware that this blog post is, once again, about digitalisation and Pharma. To my mind, there are some valuable lessons to learn from the last Spanish general election; however, I’m not by any means dissecting what happened in Spain from a political point of view, so please stay with me and keep on reading.

To summarise: elections to choose the prime minister for the four years to come in Spain were held two weeks ago. The socialist party won the election and the conservative party, PP, unexpectedly plummeted. The other relevant output to be taken into consideration is that, for the first time, a far-right party garnered important support to achieve 24 seats in the parliament.

In terms of digitalisation, I draw three conclusions:

•    The human intelligence behind data may be extremely relevant.

•    Multichannel is not digital, and digital is not the holy grail.

•    Determined leaders drive change.


Fact: the big surprise was the poor results garnered by the conservative, PP. Only one poll predicted this fact.

As usual, before any election, many polls were published. They may be an appropriate tool to tweak political party’s communication strategies, and a way to check if they’re striking a chord with voters. There are always many doubts around polls because, more often than not, they’re wrong. They usually fail dramatically to anticipate “surprise facts”.

The national sociological research institute (CIS) was the only one that foresaw PP’s poor result. Why? Hint: it wasn´t because the sample size was more significant. The secret sauce of their success was to model data differently. Actually, they were heavily criticised by adopting a different methodology, and some newspaper and political parties even mocked them.

Why would this relevant for Pharma? How are both world linked? In my previous blog post, I suggested that Pharma companies should focus on modelling data that could be easily collected from physicians in order to deliver a best-in-class customer experience. As an example, I held that data collected while rep “tablet” detailed physicians might be precious if they were appropriately analysed.

To deliver the right message on the right channel at the right time will only be real if individual customers’ preferences are spotted and, nowadays, there’re more data than ever to fulfil this task.


Fact: the far-right party, Vox, garnered worse results than expected, in spite of copying Trump’s strategy.

Following the trend for other far-right parties in the rest of the world, Vox has adopted similar messages based on fear and a twisted vision of history. Additionally, they have been particularly active in social media and, by far, the most influential political party in social channels. The optimism of their leaders was based on their power using digital channels.

Nevertheless, they didn´t clinch the relevance they expected. Why? The answer may well be that they concentrated all their efforts on social media, leaving aside traditional media and most traditional channels.

Barack Obama can be considered the early adopter of social media, and arguably social channels boosted his chances to lead the USA. Eight years later, Donald Trump surprisingly beat Hillary Clinton, combining some populist messages, hyperactivity in Twitter and a successful targeted Facebook campaigns.

There’s always something in common: social media and digital channels were adopted on top of traditional channels. American politics still spend a massive amount of money on traditional media, and they fight to influence/control mainstream TVs, radios and newspapers.

The lesson learnt for Pharma is clear-cut: the winning strategy is multichannel. Succeeding in traditional promotional/educational channels and adopting digital channels for icing on the cake. Additionally, it’s sensible to say that using digital channels is no longer a revolution but a must, although it’s not the norm in Pharma.


Fact: Pedro Sánchez, the socialist leader, won the election only three years after having garnered the worst ever results for his party and facing the opposition of regional socialist leaders.

To make it short: it seemed that Pedro Sánchez would disappear in 2016 after resigning from his seat in the parliament because of significant disagreement with his senior colleagues at the socialist party. Yet he surprisingly became prime minister in 2018 after winning a no-confidence vote against Mariano Rajoy and, he finally won the election and got broader support to lead the country a couple of weeks ago.

A powerful team is critical to succeeding, but good leaders can change the course of action and make a difference. It’s usually a combination of vision, gut feeling and analytical skills what make these leaders seething that other people can see.

At a professional level, I’ve been lucky to work with a true leader who was an inspiration and drove change and innovation. It’s not easy to find this kind of leaders, but they’re easily recognisable: not because they want things to happen but because they make it happen.