Pilot: The mission behind the marketing

How Pilot is meeting patients where they are and improving access to men’s health
Written by
David Sullivan
Dr Ben Condon

Pilot is Eucalyptus’ digital clinic for men, offering treatments for sexual performance, hair loss and weight, with a focus on discreet service. Since opening its digital doors in 2019, Pilot has gained quite a reputation for its bold marketing and direct tone of voice. They often opt to talk to their patients like mates, rather than taking the traditional “lab coat” approach. As a healthcare clinic, this can sometimes be a difficult balance to strike, however, it’s one that has ultimately paid off, with Pilot emerging as a leading voice on the sensitive side of men’s health in Australia.

As the first digital clinic under the Eucalyptus umbrella, Pilot’s dedication to providing safe, accessible and effective care to Australians set the standard early on for the overarching mission of Eucalyptus, and continues to do so to this day.

But what’s the method behind the marketing? It’s clear that Pilot’s relatable voice has struck a chord with men who want more from their health.  

The dire state of men’s health

Whether it’s due to a lack of information, feelings of shame or embarrassment, or other societal pressures, men’s health outcomes are less than stellar:  

Men are less likely to seek medical help, despite the fact that:

Heart disease is up to two times more prevalent in men. [Source]  

Obesity and type 2 diabetes are also more prevalent in men [Source]

Cancer incidence rates are 35% higher in men than women, with 50% higher mortality rates [Source]

Suicide rates are three times higher in men [Source]

• One in two Australian men experience erectile dysfunction at some point in their lives [Source]

Overall life expectancy is shorter for men [Source]

This is why Pilot was started.

At its heart, Pilot is all about breaking down barriers and communicating with men on their level. Meeting them where they’re at. Providing the tools they need to sort out their health. Hence the humour, the slang, the kind of chat you’d have at the pub.

Pilot knows Aussie men, and that they’re motivated more by banter than information booklets. The above stats clearly show that traditional healthcare has been failing men for some time.

Pilot clinician, Dr Ben Condon says: “We know Aussie men are stereotypically stoic and reluctant to seek out medical help. Our message to men is that there are effective, discreet treatments available and we are here to help. There’s no reason to suffer in silence anymore.”

But Pilot’s dedication to meeting patients where they are and cutting down medical jargon in favour of direct, clear and down-to-earth advice (with a few double entendres for good measure) has caused more than a few ripples over the past few years. Let’s take a look at three of Pilot’s most controversial moments and how they disrupted the men’s health space.

An online stoush with a competitor

In late 2022, Pilot did some research into the pricing models of other healthcare platforms in the hair loss space. It was discovered that there was a notable discrepancy in cost between Pilot, and established treatment providers, despite some of the same ingredients being used in their treatments. This struck Pilot as deeply unfair to Australian men experiencing hair loss.

The Pilot team put together a series of ads outlining this price discrepancy and how, in Pilot’s opinion, there were better deals out there for the consumer.

What ensued was a months-long ordeal that included legal proceedings from a longstanding treatment provider, an out-of-court settlement, and then a further foray from Pilot shining a light on the entirety of the situation.

This foray included a raft of expository ads, an open letter in the Sydney Morning Herald, a dedicated landing page, and billboards across Sydney, laying bare the facts around the legacy brand’s decision to sue Pilot, and their previous legal missteps.

While there was an element of poking the bear involved, the main impetus from Pilot was transparency and fairness for Australian men. Healthcare for men has historically been a “take what you get” transaction, especially in the realm of hair loss. Over time, as more competitors enter the market, consumers have realised that more options equate to better value for them.

Pilot strives to pair value with high-quality healthcare across the board, and by using humour and straight-talk to ignite a public back and forth, more Aussie men are exposed to the information they need to level up their health literacy.

A controversial Instagram post

In October 2023, the team at Pilot noticed that their article, Coke dick: Why it happens and treatments, was among its highest performers. This means a high volume of men were searching for information on this issue.

In an experiment to make this information even more accessible, the article was condensed and rewritten to make it more social friendly. It was posted on their Instagram account, @pilothealth, at the kick-off of the Labour Day long weekend. The cover of the five-slide carousel post featured a selection of rolled-up bank notes accompanied by the title: Coke dick cramping your style this long weekend? The reaction was immediate. Likes and comments started flooding in. Saves went through the roof. Nearly 1000 shares—Pilot’s highest count by a wide margin.

It was assumed the post would be a hit, but the extent to which it resonated with the public was somewhat unexpected.

So, why was it so popular?

It gave men medical information in a way they hadn’t been given it before. The post explored the common occurrence of men experiencing erectile issues due to cocaine use, and some general thoughts on the situation.

Five days and hundreds of likes and shares later from Pilot’s followers, the decision was made to archive the post, hiding it permanently from public view.

So what was the issue?

Pilot’s goal is, and always has been, to provide the medical information men need, in a non-judgemental environment, in a format that they can understand and are compelled to engage with. The post was a hit, but unfortunately, it only delivered on about 90% of that expectation. 90% is not good enough.

Crucially, what was missed was a clear warning regarding the dangers of mixing cocaine and erectile dysfunction medication—something which the original article went into in great detail.

Pilot want men to engage with their content without feeling like they’re being lectured, and the post clearly succeeded at steering away from any language that could verge on such condescension. The problem is that they steered too far, leaving some with the impression that Pilot was condoning the act of mixing illegal drugs with clinical treatment—something they would never recommend.

In the end, Pilot was advised internally to archive the post. The issue was not the drug references, not the tone, not the imagery. It was that the promise to provide clear, clinically responsible information to Aussie men wasn’t fully delivered on.

While occasionally controversial, Pilot doesn’t shy away from criticism. They took all the learnings on offer from the incident, and, while they’re proud of the intent of the post and will certainly continue to push the boundaries in order to help men understand more about their own health, they won’t make the same clinical misstep again.

Not being OK with R U OK? Day

Every day, Australia loses 7 men to suicide.

Leading up to R U OK? Day in 2022, Pilot decided to take a stance on the inaction of men’s mental health services. The campaign ultimately asked for action over awareness. While taking such a bold stance on R U OK? Day was definitely a divisive decision, its purpose was to call out futile, corporate awareness box-ticking events on men’s mental health. The stats show that we are facing a dire challenge when it comes to men’s mental health, and morning teas are unlikely to inspire the society-wide change that is needed. While Pilot doesn’t provide mental health support directly, as a leader within the sensitive side of men’s health, they understand how important taking care of mental health is for their patients.

Instead, Pilot opted to put their money where their mouth is. In early 2023, Pilot announced an ongoing partnership with This is a Conversation Starter (TIACS) involving a yearly donation of $120,000 to the early intervention service. This essentially pays for 1400 hours of professional counselling so Aussie men can get real, practical care and advice from the comfort of their own homes.

TIACS is a free mental health counselling service for blue-collar and rural workers, truckies and tradies. Unlike some other mental health services, TIACS is not designed for crisis support. If you are in a moment of crisis, these services can be helpful, if not life-saving. However, TIACS and Pilot’s goal is to create a culture of early intervention. Through their ongoing partnership with TIACS, Pilot encourages having open conversations about mental health for early intervention. TIACS provide counselling that aims to support men’s mental wellbeing for the long term, and gives men access to eight free sessions via text or call with the same counsellor.

While the social campaign ruffled a few feathers online, the commentary was largely positive and supportive, with much of the audience echoing Pilot’s stance towards action over awareness.

The outcome

Pilot’s tactics aren’t always perfect, but they’re more than just cheeky marketing. Just as they don’t shy away from straightforward chat with their audience, they also don’t shy away from criticism, and gladly take all the learnings on offer from their campaigns.

Empathy, growth, and a genuine understanding of our audience and patients is critical to Pilot—and Euc’s—success, and even though Pilot will never compromise on their vision, they take every chance they can get to improve while delivering the best healthcare option that Aussie men actually want to engage with.

That’s why we stand by Pilot’s tone of voice.

Authors

David Sullivan
Senior Copywriter
Dr Ben Condon
Senior Medical Operations Associate