Recently, I had a chance to catch up with myself while on an airplane to London to visit FCB Health’s offices in the U.K. I am the Chief Creative Officer of the FCB Health Network, and was heading to London to meet members of the Cannes Lions team to discuss becoming the Pharma Jury President for the Lions Health festival in June.
Me: So, Rich, what is the state of creativity in healthcare advertising?
Rich: I think we’re at the tipping point for the next “golden age” of healthcare advertising. Everywhere I look, I see incredibly talented people doing great work. The problem is that there’s still too much healthcare advertising that drowns out the truly great work. I’m hoping that by celebrating the great work, more people will aspire to create it.
Me: A lot of people tend to blame the U.S. regulatory system, internal legal reviews, and conservative clients for the work. What are your thoughts?
Rich: I completely disagree. I don’t see my clients sitting in their offices with Sharpies and pads coming up with campaign ideas. They can only approve what we present to them. I believe that too many people in our industry underestimate their clients. Boring work is created by lazy agencies.
Me: Lazy? That’s a bold statement.
Rich: It’s far easier to just give a client something you know they’ll buy. And it takes far less effort—as you don’t put in as much time to create it, hone the craft, and work with the legal and regulatory bodies to ensure that it stays alive.
Me: So, great ideas take more time?
Rich: I wouldn’t say more time. But more craft. The difference between something good enough and something great comes down to putting additional effort around craft—the extra effort to wordsmith a headline without the need for a clarifying eyebrow; the effort to find an ownable visual element without the overreliance on stock photography. The reason you see so many ads with someone gardening? Gardening is safe—and takes no effort or thought.
Me: Then why are you so bullish on healthcare creativity?
Rich: The work that I see every day. The extra effort our teams put into every project. And every time I look at work from around the globe, I’m amazed at the great work being done. So, yes, I think the best is yet to come.