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The Power of the Disruptive Story


Brand Insights - Thought Leadership | Paid Program

Grace Eriksen
Associate Creative Director/Copy
The Agency Network at MJH Life Sciences

Grace Eriksen
Associate Creative Director/Copy
The Agency Network at MJH Life Sciences

This is a true story. Two decades ago, I was a copy supervisor at a top NYC healthcare agency. We had just pitched and won a very large piece of business from a big pharma client, leading to a market research marathon across the US, testing a half dozen new HCP concepts for a gold standard in hypertension management. Midway through the testing, the client “Mitch” had an idea he wanted to share with the agency team, an idea he thought was perfect to promote this billion-dollar antihypertensive.

Mitch gathered the team in a conference room and held up a picture of an attractive older couple walking down a beautiful beach with his headline carefully written in Sharpie at the top: “Proven Efficacy.” Mitch said he wanted to put his concept into testing, so we did. And you know what? It tested the best in every city we visited. The doctors said the couple looked happy, and they liked that. “Proven Efficacy” was a good message, they said.

But are those two overused words what’s needed to build a brand? Would doctors even remember “Proven Efficacy”? Be motivated by those empty words? Inspired by them?

The disruptive story doesn’t rely on tired words. It hits a nerve in people’s souls, makes them think differently, care differently. It may not always win in testing. It may make people a bit uncomfortable. The big idea doesn’t look like anything you’ve seen before. That’s why it’s not a couple walking on a beach. Or a puzzle piece. Or a chess board. Or a road sign. Or a bridge. Or a lock and key. Or a lighthouse. Or a grandfather playing catch with his granddaughter in a suburban back yard.

It’s the truly big idea that tells a powerful truth about a brand. The uniquely compelling, always memorable, ownable idea that brings to life what is differentiating about this brand, at this moment in time, for these customers.

Our mission is to find the best stories in our brands, in our data, in our strengths. Uncover the memorable tales that activate. The powerful words and images that work together to compel action. The disruptive dialogues that shape and reshape habits and preferences.

And once and for all, let’s vow to never say “Proven Efficacy” again. No matter how well it tests in Chicago.