Implement creative healthcare marketing to take advertising to another level

For advertisers in the healthcare marketing industry, it may seem as if retail marketers have all the fun. Look no further than the annual Super Bowl for confirmation - the event is almost as famous for the content aired during ad breaks as it is for the battles between football titans that play out on the field. Indeed, numerous people who tune into this ratings magnet of an event admit that they only watch for the commercials.

"There's no reason agencies serving the health sector can't be creative."

Trotting out the Budweiser frogs and E-Trade baby may not be the best marketing strategy for pharmaceutical and healthcare advertising, but that doesn't mean agencies serving the health sector can't be creative. In fact, there's an entire event - Cannes Lions Health, which is part of the annual Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity - that acknowledges creative excellence in healthcare communications. Speaking to PM360, jurors on the Cannes Lions Health panel and other industry leaders offered their take on how to amp up creativity within healthcare and pharma marketing.

1. Channel the passion of healthcare innovators
"Inventing new medicines takes creativity, passion and persistence," noted Rob Rogers, co-CEO of the Americas for Sudler & Hennessey and jury president of Lions Health Pharma, as quoted by PM360. "I'd love to see marketers adopt that stance and champion powerful ideas before paying too much for another approvable and forgettable solution."

2. Stop thinking of healthcare marketing as an entirely different animal
"I spent the first part of my career working on creative for everything from beer to soft drinks to cellphones, and because of that, I can tell you firsthand that working in healthcare has exactly the same challenges," asserted Rich Levy, Lions Health juror and chief creative officer at FCB Health, according to PM360. "At the end of the day, you are still trying to tell a story that changes behavior."

3. Think outside the box - but be mindful of regulatory restrictions
"In many ways, the pharma, biotech and medical device industries are extremely creative - however, regulations do restrict the degrees to which creativity can go," acknowledged Robert Lojewski, vice president of healthcare systems at CSL Behring, quoted by the media outlet. "I remember being told by the FDA once that the photo of our patient in our DTC campaign showed too much teeth - which the FDA associated with an efficacy claim for depression."

Some regulations specific to the healthcare industry can make it difficult - but not impossible - to think outside the box.Some regulations specific to the healthcare industry can make it difficult - but not impossible - to think outside the box.

4. Reframe the idea of what it means to be creative
"Creativity can mean the way we frame the client's marketing issue, or the non-traditional channel we choose to show brand-building ideas or the way we staff an account to provide the right thinkers to solve the problem," stated David Paragamian, president of The APO Group at Huntsworth Health, according to the news source. "Creative happens the minute we engage with the client - often in unexpected ways."

5. Acknowledge the increasing involvement of patients and clients
"Patients and consumers are emerging as key stakeholders in personalized healthcare - opening up exciting new opportunities for creative communication," pointed out Lions Health juror Robin Shapiro, president and CEO of CAHG, as quoted by PM360. "The creative potential is endless because the emphasis is on creating empathy for the patient - and telling emotionally compelling stories."

An advertising agency tasked with producing collateral for a company in the healthcare industry shouldn't assume there's no room for innovation within the sector and default to a "me too" campaign. Marketers that heed the above advice may not only turn the heads of their target demographic but could also put themselves in the running for an award at the next Cannes Lions Health event.