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Is there a creativity problem in pharma?

04/07/17 07:30
COUCH Medcomms



For the second time in 4 years the Cannes Health Lions jury failed to award a Grand Prix for pharma. Is this a damning indictment of our industry or is this awards madness and the wrong work being submitted in the hope it sticks? The jury is out on this. However, with tightly regulated and risk averse compliance demands on every side, the pharma industry may be thinking that too much creativity is a dangerous thing. So the question of this blog, is there a creativity problem in pharma? The simple answer is no.

Pharma creativity is, however, one of the most powerful ways of achieving some of the industry’s main objectives. Those include changing patient behaviours and offering greater support to encourage overall health and wellness.

Why creativity is important

Raising an individual voice above the clamour of similar voices in the market place can seem an impossible task. But when creativity hits the right note, it resonates in the audience’s mind and memory, replays in their imagination and can inspire action.

Creativity can be used to position a brand and reflect its purpose, and when the brand is clearly understanding of the needs of the target audience, it encourages loyalty to one brand over another.

When true creativity is brought into the marketing mix, it creates a campaign that’s both original and that directly addresses issues the brand seeks to help or solve. Offering creatively unique answers to existing health issues has a direct impact on profit through sales achieved. That’s not to say improved sales should form the fundamental basis for pharma creativity, but rather that when creativity is used to reinforce the purpose behind the existence of the brand or product, the natural engagement of the audience leads to greater uptake. 

Changing behaviour through creative thought

We’ve written a lot about behaviour psychology and the importance of understanding what drives people to act the way they do, often in ways that prove harmful to health in the long term.

Deeply understanding behaviours, including what can trigger an emotional engagement, should ideally be used to inspire and inform creativity.

So research comes first; research into the real issues that prevent ideal health behaviour, because it’s only through diving really deeply into those issues that ways can be found to help people overcome their barriers.

A good example is the award winning ‘This Girl Can’ campaign which sought to encourage women to take up exercise and improve their fitness levels.  The campaign, which resulted from the creative interpretation of behavioural research, depicts real women in real situations rather than idealised visions of feminine fitness.

The result is immediately engaging and encouraging because the women in the short film are everyone’s friend, mother, sister or neighbour. Every woman watching will make an emotional connection.

Without the research, this kind of creativity could have fallen very wide of the mark, but because the researcher totally understood the root causes of exercise concerns among women, the reality it presents is uplifting, inspiring and encouraging.

Follow up research one year later revealed that, following the campaign, almost 3 million UK women in the 14 - 40 age range had taken up or been more involved in, some form of exercise.

Inspiring change

Ultimately, pharma creativity is about inspiring people to look differently at an aspect of health, and encouraging them to then think and act differently as a result. The more challenging the marketplace, especially when those challenges come from regulations and compliance demands, the more a need exists for creativity that will enable an individual voice to be heard.

We can all work harder, we can all push boundaries more and here’s hoping to a better 2018. 


Brand Strategy Pharma


Topics: Brand Strategy, Brand Equity, Creativity

COUCH Medcomms

At the risk of sounding too pretentious, at COUCH we consider ourselves storytellers first and foremost. And we are passionate in championing this approach to medical communications.

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