Whose job is it to be creative in healthcare marketing?

May 2015

With the 2015 Cannes Lions Health Festival taking place next month in June, it puts the spotlight on creativity in the global healthcare communications industry.

Historically, and still believed to be the case today by many, pharma has fallen behind when it comes to creativity in marketing but, with awards such as Cannes Lion now celebrating innovation in the industry, whose job is it to inject the big ideas into healthcare campaigns? Is it the agency or the client?

Healthcare gets a bad rap when it comes to its marketing efforts.  Regulations, compliance, and a fear of getting it wrong or standing out from the crowd too far has put barriers up to creativity but, with a few brave trailblazers confidently leading the way and succeeding with their efforts, the industry is beginning to question just how safe its marketing needs to be.

Creativity in healthcare communications doesn’t just lie in the concept or the message.  These days, with multichannel campaigns and big data, creativity can be applied throughout the campaign planning.  Unrestricted thinking can find new, exciting ways to reach an audience, and can generate fresh ideas for how those messages are executed, in what tone, with what visuals, and with what frequency.  There’s room to innovate everywhere; from the way the story is told, to how the journey unfolds for the audience, and how the data is used to enrich the brand experience.

In today’s multichannel, complex marketing environment studded with social media, automated customer experiences, big data, guerilla campaigns, world-breaking events and even gamification, it’s no wonder many organisations still hide behind compliance to avoid the potential risks of trying something new in unknown environments.

There is an answer and it lies in collaboration. It’s all about forging strong, open agency/client relationships.

A good pharmaceutical advertising agency should be given the freedom to push boundaries with creative ideas and execution.  They know what’s possible in marketing and they know how to use each channel to reach your audience.  The client, working closely with the agency, should encourage the big ideas whilst bringing to the table brand objectives, audience insights, product research, and the latest information on compliance.  Both parties should take advantage of each other’s strengths to create show-stopping, relevant, penetrative communications that break the mould and stand out amongst the noise.

Physicians, patients and the general public are bombarded with me-too marketing messages from the world of healthcare everyday, on every device and channel.  Being afraid to jump out of that mass is not only hurting your brand and sales figures; it’s damaging your overall objective.  Agency or client, the end game should always be the same: to improve health and reduce suffering.  That goal will only be achieved if you’re prepared to make some bold moves.

Time and time again, we see success where healthcare brands and agencies have dared to experiment – and we’re looking forward to seeing it again at this year’s Lion Health awards.

For creativity to work, the responsibility lies with both the brand managers and the agencies. Together, with some insightful and innovative risk taking, we can start to make a real difference in healthcare.

Fir further advice on creative healthcare marketing, visit www.benchmark-ad.com