The Rx Club's 25th Anniversary Show - Pharmaceutical Executive

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The Rx Club's 25th Anniversary Show
The Rx Club Show celebrates 25 years of honoring the best in creative pharmaceutical advertising


Pharmaceutical Executive


Pharm Exec spoke with some of this year's judges and winners to get a more in-depth look at the trends and challenges creative teams are facing in the healthcare space.

PE: How can you incorporate shifts in culture; changes in attitudes and ideas about medicine and wellness; and other current ideas, concerns, and events into your work in a way that resonates with your current audience?

Sandra Hansen Tollefson, associate creative director, StoneArch Creative: Staying current is always a challenge. As fast as things change, many remain the same. People still want information delivered in an understandable and concise form. We encourage clients to engage their audiences in a conversation that is more about the audience's needs and wants than about product benefits. Empowering healthcare consumers to control their health and their health finances, whether an impact of federal legislation or industry-directed, is key to successful health and medical marketing.

Mark Gillmore, creative director, HCB Health: As advertisers, we have to be in tune with our audience—what types of media they consume, what activities they participate in, and what trends they follow. We follow Twitter feeds, read blogs, attend conferences, and go through reams of industry articles and journals. Think of it as a virtual Spock mind-meld. That way, we aren't just reacting to what's hot and what's not—we actually participate in determining those trends.

Barry Schmader, chief creative officer, dudnyk: That's part of being a good creative communicator. You absorb the culture of your audience—their concerns, ideas, decision-making process, the things that are affecting their lives—then you meld that with your brand's objectives to create a mix of the two. In the long run, that's how you create good work that sells your audience on an idea—you have to first understand and be immersed in their culture. Think of yourself as a shaman.

PE: In the past 25 years, how has technology changed healthcare advertising for the better? For the worse?

Dr. Rajesh Nair, president, Indegene: If we look at the role of technology more closely, the Yin is the ability to sharply focus our messaging and communication for different customer segments and deliver them effectively while collecting data and feedback that continuously improves the efficacy of the process. The Yang is that customers have morphed from being pure 'receivers' to being active participants. This calls for more intelligent, interactive, and meaningful design of the communication process.

Stephen Neale, SVP/executive creative director, AbelsonTaylor: The iPad is really starting to change the game of detailing drug products to doctors. However, even with that technology's sound and animation, I still see too much one-way communication—from rep to doctor. We are fusing innovative technology and creative [elements] to present data and information in a way that compels the doctor to want to see and discuss the brand. Doctors can now take an active part in deciding how the brand best impacts them.

Rob Resnick, VP, group creative director, Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness: The Web has created a more engaged, informed, and involved patient. People are looking for information and they're hungry for it. Patients come to their doctor appointments better informed, more aware of their options, and willing to ask questions. [However], it's hard for patients to know what information to trust on the Web. Anyone can write anything on a blog. That leads to a lot of misconceptions. Separating fact from fiction remains a challenge for patients. This in turn requires extra time on the doctor's part.

Dave Sonderman, executive creative director, GSW Worldwide: The challenge isn't understanding all the different technology opportunities, but rather how best to keep them drafting and building off one another. Creating ideas in the modern media demands a modern definition of an idea. Where we used to discuss, share, and evaluate conceptual ideas in a 'box' or 'spot' form—headline, key frame, maybe a script—with digital, social, mobile, advocacy, and events we all have to reevaluate how we define and evaluate an 'idea' or a 'campaign.' This isn't solely a creative department or agency issue—healthcare is an industry that likes to validate its decisions with research—so this need for a modern definition of an idea goes right down to the creative stimulus used in market research.


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Source: Pharmaceutical Executive,
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