More agencies are running into the healthcare space. And who can blame them? There is revenue in “them thar hills” and no one is passing up the opportunity to dig up a little more. However, I am less certain that the creatives inside those agencies are all running towards health with the same excitement. And I get it. Health is tricky, and at first glance, not an obvious creative goldmine.
I remember when I first moved to the United States, I saw direct-to-consumer advertising for the first time. It did not make a good first impression. So what made me jump into health? I met someone with a transformative vision to change how health marketing is done. Eight years later, I still work for her. I have kept my passion for great work, while breaking the old rules of healthcare marketing. Mostly, it is because I know that I am doing something that is important. Something that makes a real difference.
Everyone talks about the importance of putting people at the center of the strategy these days. When you work in the health space, you have no choice but to think about the person you are talking to. It tests your ability to connect with people like no other category. Working in health gives us the opportunity to create work that saves lives, extends lives and even helps to create lives. It is an extraordinary thing when you stop to think about it, much different from the first 20 years of my career selling cars, cards and carbs.
Of course, not all of the health work you see is great. Far from it. But then, if we judged all consumer advertising by only what we saw during commercial breaks, most of us might feel an urge to quit this business for good. Look at the last Super Bowl, the historic bastion of great advertising. Did you love every spot in you saw? Probably not. Were there any you wished you’d made? One or two. The same is absolutely true in health, because while there is some great work being done in this space, there is always room for more.
The rush of new agencies into the health space is an opportunity to bring fresh thinking into our space. It is also a challenge. Look at the beautiful work Wieden+Kennedy produced for the National MS Society. Using virtual reality to connect MS patients to a passion they haven’t been able to enjoy for a decade is not only inspired, it raises the bar for all of us.
The intimacy of health gives us the opportunity to make deep, meaningful connections our audience wants and needs. As a well-known planner once said, there are only two things that nobody wants less of: money and health. This allows us to be up close and personal in a way that brands in other categories can only dream of. Perhaps best of all, there are so many opportunities to create something that has never been seen before: new media, new devices, new connections and partnerships, new schools of thought. Maker thinking is starting to appear in the health space and is already starting to show positive outcomes. The possibility to create something that has never been more possible. So the next time a brief lands on your desk don’t just bang it out. Give it your best shot. Strive to create something amazing that transforms the space. Deliver an idea that helps people make better, more confident health decisions. In you do, you may win a Lion. But more importantly you can also truly improve people’s lives and that is where the real gold is.