When one of her pharma clients was launching a new injectable drug to help stimulate white blood cells to fight infection in chemotherapy patients, Clare O'Boyle, director of entertainment, United States, for Jack Morton Worldwide, New York, chose singer Pat Benatar to energize the event. Benatar not only agreed to alter her strict set list and perform “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” as the finale, she also “thanked the attendees at the end for doing such a great job and working so hard.” When motivating the troops, either during sales launches or incentive trips, performances like Benatar's are “something people will never forget,” says O'Boyle.

While big-name entertainment is pricey, there are ways to cut costs, says O'Boyle, such as piggybacking on a public performance that the performer is making. O'Boyle also looks for upcoming artists or those releasing a new album. “It's not always about the huge name — it's also about the experience,” she says.

(For more tips on booking top talent, visit meetingsnet.com, and search for “Booking Big Names.”)

Teambuilding with Art

Another approach to motivation increasingly used by pharma companies is teambuilding, says O'Boyle. One activity that is particularly effective is facilitated by the Foundation for Hospital Art, Roswell, Ga. The foundation prepares a canvas, provides paints, and guides attendees, who, divided into teams, create a painting. “It's like a color-by-number experience, but it evolves into this beautiful piece of art. Then the paintings are sent to hospitals around the world. It's a wonderful gift to the communities from the pharmaceutical company,” says O'Boyle, adding that such a project is not only good public relations for the company, but makes employees feel good.