Leggo My Logo

The ACCME just released a Q&A about their recently announced policy prohibiting commercial interest logos in disclosure of commercial support. This policy change has been much buzzed about in CME circles and has the distinction of being one of the few things that both pharma-free CME and industry-supported CME advocates can agree on — they both hate it.

Maybe I’m just irritable about the unseasonably cool weather we’ve been having in the northeast or maybe I’m grumpy that the Phillies haven’t had a decent bullpen since 2008, but somehow, I disagree with everybody.

A major focal point for those against the logo-banning is the issue of transparency — or lack thereof — which I find kind of baffling. First, most CME providers I know have no interest in hiding the source of funding for their activities. Why would they? They eventually would like to get more funding to produce more activities, so why would they want to annoy the funder by burying their acknowledgement in the fine print? That makes no sense. Second, while a corporate logo is certainly more obvious than a plain text name, it’s not that hard to format the text so it stands out more. Use a bigger font or make it bold or use all caps or print it in purple. It’s not that hard. This seems like a weak argument to me.

On the other hand, I don’t really see the point of the logo prohibition in the first place. I don’t understand why it’s OK to list the name of the commercial supporter, but not their corporate logo. There’s not much difference.

Why is this OK: Pfizer small


But this isn’t? Pfizer logo

Take away the blue circle and change the font and they’re exactly the same.

To me, it looks like what’s really being banned is window dressing, which, I mean, if that’s what you’re going for, then, mission accomplished. Is it “continuing the separation of promotion from education”, the stated reason for the policy? I don’t know. I never really thought of having a commercial supporter’s logo in a syllabus as promotion. It’s just an acknowledgement of their financial contribution. It seems perfectly reasonable to me to use a logo to acknowledge financial support without assuming the company behind that logo is influencing the content within. Every summer I go watch the Phillies play at Citizen’s Bank Park, but I don’t assume that a representative from Citizen’s Bank is helping Ryne Sandberg fill out his line-up card (though maybe they should). I fail to see how swapping out a logo for text makes much of a difference. It’s just one more rule for me to keep track of.


5 responses to “Leggo My Logo

  1. Frederick, Terry

    Dear CME Guy,
    Thank you for your bold statement. I feel the same way but I was sure I was missing something very important in the discussion.

    · Is there a larger percentage of people who react strongly to symbols (logo) then to text?

    · Does somehow using the logo imply that there is a more tawdry relationship that is not a business relationship?
    Anyway thanks for making the point. Most of my time in the CPD/CME world has been spent explaining way we require this or why that is a rule. This is one that seems like a rule just for the sake of making a rule.

    “To the person who only has a hammer in the toolkit, every problem looks like a nail.” Abraham Maslow

    Theresa Frederick
    Professional Development
    NEW PHONE NUMBER 414-219-5496

  2. Michelle Palumbo


  3. Well…I have had a different experience. Years ago, I worked with a provider who wanted to put logos from our “gold” supporters up everywhere, all under the guise of disclosure, when these were clearly advertisements- banner ads, GOBOs, etc. By separating it, it makes it very clear what is promotional, and what is educational.

    Also, the argument that I’ve heard floating around about supporters’ ROI goes against the “acknowledgement of financial contribution,” and leans more towards “what can we get out of this,” (beyond just outcomes, etc.) IMHO.

  4. What’s disturbing to ME is that decisions are made without what I consider a valid rationale or evidence to support either position. How do we know how logos on CHE materials are perceived by HCPs or whether the majority even care, one way or the other? If we don’t ask, why assume we know what they believe? Of all the issues they (and we) have to focus on in the field of healthcare, this seems the least innocuous.

    I don’t believe the reckless actions of a few define all and I struggle to see how this is to the benefit (or detriment) of all stakeholders.

  5. KCinthesunshine

    Another perspective here….what is the intent? Is this acknowledgment/thanks or disclosure? Consider the perspective that this is disclosure so that learners have full transparency regarding sources of funding and can take that information into consideration (closer to the ACCME stance). There really is no place for a logo in this case – in fact that does the opposite by potentially leading learners (and others) to conclude that a company had something to do with the content of the program simply because it makes the materials less distinguished from promotional ones that carry the same logo. We all know the rules of the road but boy are there folks out there who do not.

    If the logo is akin to “gosh lets all thank the company” then it’s really not an appropriate use. For those providers who work exclusively in CME this really shouldn’t make a difference. It will be a pain for MSS and others who receive both grants and sponsorships and have to figure out what goes where.

    One more challenge as a commercial supporter is inappropriate and inconsistent logo use – wrong logo version, too big, too small, wrong background, wrong knock out, wrong resolution, not associated with a written statement, etc. It is a challenge to try and oversee appropriate logo use on materials that don’t go through the standard regulatory review that every single piece of copy goes through before external dissemination because there is no oversight by the CS.

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