With the Cannes Lions Health Festival of Creativity quickly approaching—June 17 to 21 in Cannes, France—the excitement is palpable among the pharma and health and wellness participants who are up for awards, and everyone else! This year’s event features five days of content, 65+ speakers, 100s of global brands, and 32,000 pieces of their work! PM360 spoke with several Jury Presidents and industry professionals about the creative arc of the industry—and how the concept of creativity is expanding. PM360 asked:
- From your perspective, what constitutes great creative in 2019?
- What new tools can creatives use to better understand and connect with their audiences, in terms of technologies, such as AI, VR, and other technologies?
- How important is empathy, using the patient’s language, as made possible through social listening and other methods, and how can marketers hone their work in a way that tells patients, “I (our brand) care about you?” and “I can help you?”
- What is the single most import thing creatives should know, or should possess, when it comes to creating great work?
- Where do you think creative is headed in the near future, perhaps five years out, or even further?
In the world of design, great creative comes not from a single touchpoint, but the overarching culmination of every aspect. Great creative is about designing an experience. It’s not the single fishhook that lures a consumer, rather, it’s the Velcro—a myriad of little hooks, that combined, make a strong experience. We’re always looking for those little areas where the design experience can be improved and enhanced.
The key for 2019 is, then, how we as designers can creatively bring about well-thought-out design which builds a great product experience that joins up all dots—both the known and the ones we don’t yet know but should use research to unlock.
What Creatives Should Know
Agreeing what “good” looks like is crucial at a brand level. Yet, it’s sometimes hard to articulate what is a good or bad design experience, so using real-life examples is key versus vague and ambiguous metrics. Ultimately, the customer will be the judge and jury so working intimately with consumers in an agile way is key.
Once you have agreed as a company what “good” looks like and how your design strategy is linked to your corporate and brand strategy, you have to be obsessed about your customers or consumers; only by knowing them deeply will you be able to delight them.
You then must remember this is a never-ending game and expectation inflation is happening everyday so you need to continuously iterate and improve; today is the worst it will be and tomorrow it will be better.
There will always be a place for creativity in marketing. We all love a bit of magic and surprise. Having said that, we are seeing a transformation in how creative content is being consumed. There are new channels and touchpoints. Time frames are also shifting. Long TV ads with a life-span of months are being replaced by short snippets made for social media. Content is edited daily, if not more often, in response to data feedback.
Keyword: Brand Experience
The key word going forward will be “brand experience.” The challenge will be to focus on all touchpoints on a customer’s journey to give them a consistent and holistic experience. How to create that seamless experience and continuous journey both online and offline through events, web, social media, personal interactions—just to name a few—will require creative thinking and creative solutions.
Data and technology will enable this change and allow for personalization at scale. In a nutshell, creative work needs to go beyond “just communication” to a relevant and useful experience. Our audiences need to feel part of that experience rather than being communicated to. It’s a brave new world with lots of opportunity for the right creative thinkers.
Today, the best advertising doesn’t actually look like advertising. We’re at a point where consumers, millennials in particular, will tell you that they no longer respond to advertising. In fact, a recent study found that only 11% of millennials see advertising as effective. That means almost 90% believe that advertising doesn’t work. I’ve even read studies that say that figure is as high as 99%. Regardless, it means that we need to find another way. Today, great creative work provides experiences, not ads. Think Fearless Girl, The Immunity Charm, or Field Trip to Mars. Advertisers can’t just say things anymore, they have to act. And they have to act in ways that create relationships between brands and their audiences. As Richard Branson says, “Anyone can buy an airplane and we all buy planes from the same manufacturers. If you fly on a Virgin plane… you know you’re going to have a completely different experience.”
Empathy is paramount. The human mind is capable of understanding the nuance, feelings and perspectives of patients, payers, and physicians alike. This provides us insight and emotional intelligence to guide our interactions. We must not forget that to be empathetic, we must be committed to “walk in another person’s shoes.” For the future of brand marketing, this is what agencies must bring to the table. As medicine has evolved in many countries from being a caring business to being a business of care, our industry must lift itself in new ways to support its core community to truly be the powerful voice of the patient.
The only space we all need to occupy in the end is the one between our audiences’ ears, and that fundamentally hasn’t changed as long as I’ve been in this industry. Giving our consumers reason to believe in brands should still be the No. 1 goal of everyone in our industry. On the point of what a creative should possess, I think that there is a need for more creative role models. Our industry is crying out for more inspirational characters. We need more heroes who aren’t afraid of taking risks, being themselves, taking pride in being outrageous and provocative. Steve Jobs said it better than I ever could: “Why join the navy when you can be a pirate?” I think that’s all we all need to aspire too.
What’s Around the Corner?
Although it’s hard enough to know what’s going on next week, let alone in five years’ time, as a creative person, not knowing what’s around the corner and living with curiosity is part of the fun. Why wait for the future to happen when you can create it? The best way I can answer this question is by contemplating what we define as “creative” today, when compared with what will constitute “creative” in the not-too-distant future. Agencies’ creative departments hopefully will be made up of more diverse skill sets, extending far beyond the classic art/design and copy teams. This in turn (I believe) will help broaden opportunities and move our “creative” into more dynamic experiences, products, services, and new businesses.
Trust in pharma is at an all-time low. One way that brands can rebuild trust is by demonstrating authenticity. It’s not authentic when we use models instead of real patients or depend on borrowed interest to tell a brand’s story. There’s no more powerful way to create a connection with customers (whether HCP or consumers) than through listening to real patient stories. For the brand Keytruda, for example, we found real patients to share their authentic stories of what it was like to receive a cancer diagnosis, how it impacted their family, and their hopes for treatment. In a world that is so caught up with technology, brands have to rediscover their humanity.
Five Years Out
Over the next five years, there are several major trends that will reshape creativity in healthcare. One important trend is the move toward data-driven creativity. The days of just using data to measure impact are behind us. Now data is being applied to every phase of the creative process to inspire more relevant customized content. For example, Aveeno created a campaign aimed at users who had purchased Aveeno in one category, but had not yet chosen to try an additional line of products; audiences were then built and served addressable creative, with messaging customized to reflect real-world triggers such as UV index, wake-up/bedtime routines, retailer locations, and season. I expect to see this trend explode over in the next few years, and it will radically transform the creative product.
Empathy goes beyond just listening to your audience—it’s about knowing what actually matters to them. However, this insight only takes us halfway there.
The other half is about resonating with your audience. Your audience perceives the world in a particular way, and they use specific language to express that perception. So, when a brand speaks to its audience using their specific language, not only does it signify that the brand understands them, but it also shows a commitment to the audience—an indication that they can trust the brand to deliver what they’re looking for. Language in this context is not the difference between French and English, it’s the difference between using one specific word (or phrase) over another. Because it’s more important to understand the way people think—and why they think that way—than to understand basic demographics.
To cite an example, Aira is a service that connects people who are blind or have low vision to highly trained, remotely-located agents. The Aira brand is uniquely positioned as a tech startup that’s also very human at its core. Fostering trust and respect forms the backbone of its communications strategies because we know our audience can be wary of assistive technology companies. The service avoids using the term “help,” because its users don’t need help—the majority of them have excellent orientation and mobility skills. What Aira does is enhance efficiency. And because its agents work with blind and low-vision users to accomplish everyday tasks, we’ve changed our greeting from “How can I help you?” to “What would you like to do today?” It’s action-based, to the point, and respectful. It may be a small point, but every touchpoint builds a bigger picture—one that clearly portrays how we’re making the world a more inclusive place.