Words by Kirstie Turner
Pharma is seeing a host of ground-breaking innovations, with companies developing new technologies that are changing patients’ lives and helping to develop a more patient-centric industry.
Pharma are harnessing the healing hands of creativity, reaching people across the globe to address many pressing health and social issues. In return, they are seeing huge levels of brand exposure: combining tradition with technology to improve diagnosis rates or seeing campaigns go viral by telling patient stories that evoke emotions. Doing good is no longer just a PR project, it is an invaluable business strategy, and one that companies must invest more time, money, and creative energy into. In a world where 91% of millennials will switch to a brand that is associated with a cause, it is essential that the industry project their creativity for the greater good.
They [businesses] are not just thinking about return on investment, they are thinking about return on doing good
Proctor and Gambles’ Vicks truly is an exemplar of using their position to do good. They used a creative new approach to marketing in their #TouchofCare campaign, which shares the stories of unique individuals across India and the Philippines. At Cannes Lions, Ajay Vikram, Chief Creative Officer, Publicis Singapore says: “We didn’t write stories; we actually became journalists. All we did was look at the world around us for inspiration.” It was important that they really showed they care about the cause by staying true to themselves.
The time and money invested in this project is undoubtedly paying off. Their ‘Just a Boy’ advert, which showed a woman taking in a baby with HIV, has >12 million views on YouTube. Maithreyi Jagannathan, Associate Brand Director Healthcare IMEA, Procter & Gamble, says: “In a survey done by the Economic Times, our [Vicks’] ranking in most trusted brands had gone up by 18 points”. This put them in the top 10 for most trusted healthcare and personal care brands. Their consumer base shows growth of 6.5 million households, demonstrating that consumers are responding well.
And goodness truly does multiply. Vicks set up a fund to help the people they featured. They used the power of storytelling in ‘Generations of Care’: Gauri Sawant has raised an orphan but is not legally allowed to adopt the child because she is transgender. The campaign snowballed; it was featured across the world, including in The New York Times, and Gauri has become the face of a movement. She says that Vicks have transformed her life; she gained a platform and Vicks gained an abundance of attention from the media. Being transgender has since been decriminalised in India.
All we did was look at the world around us for inspiration
Another incomparable example of pharma using creativity to do good is McCann Health Shanghai’s ‘Breath of Life’ initiative, which is the winner of a Cannes Gold Lion and the Grand Prix in the Cannes Lions’ pharma category. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease affects >100 million people in China, but they only have a diagnosis rate of <7%. ‘Breath of Life’ is an app with the mission of improving these statistics.
The app is accessed through ‘WeChat’, China’s multi-purpose app with >1 billion users. Users blow onto the phone to create a drawing of a tree on the screen; it is inspired by China’s traditional blow painting. The tree grows according to the strength of breath and is then categorised. If the tree does not reach 70% growth, users are encouraged to go for a check-up. There are a range of tree styles and flowers to choose from, creating a personalised image that they can share on social media with the hope of reaching more potential patients to test.
The accolades this project has obtained speak volumes for the exposure and praise that McCann are receiving for this unique app that has the potential to help millions of people. They are turning something that can be unappealing, thinking about a health check-up, into an art form that honours a Chinese tradition. With 713 million Chinese smartphone users, the possibilities for good, and for growth, are vast. Matt Eastwood, Global Chief Creative Officer, McCann Health, says: “They [businesses] are not just thinking about return on investment, they are thinking about return on doing good.”
The environment is also a growing concern for consumers: an area that GSK have begun to address. Marc Speichert, Chief Digital Officer, GSK Consumer Healthcare, speaks at Cannes Lions: “Pollution is absolutely massive. Some of the stats that we are seeing are pretty scary: roughly 7 million people die every year from complications due to pollution.” This is a vast and terrifying figure. Speichert asks: “From a data perspective, how do we help people manage this major issue?”
When discussing GSK’s ‘DD&A for Good’ initiative, Speichert shares the app ‘DustSee’ which allows users to look through their camera and see which types of pollution are in the air and in what quantity. A mask is recommended in highly polluted areas. They use a creative design to engage users and encourage them to use the app. He also discusses ‘The Clean Breathing Institute’: “The mission of this institute was to really make an impact on everything around pollution. The ambition that we have is by 2025 to actually impact 300 million consumers or people that are in the most polluted areas.” He discusses how they will go about this: “We want to partner with 2.5 million healthcare practitioners and really equip them with the right tools and coaching mechanisms powered by data and DD&A to really minimise the impact of this major health crisis.”
McCann Health also created a campaign with Kwality Dairy. India has a vitamin D-deficient younger generation; Kwality Dairy saw this problem and came up with a simple solution: The Noon Assembly. Swapping from a morning to midday assembly was an easy change for schools to make and the initiative was endorsed by doctors. Through this initiative and the advertising campaign that accompanied it, the brand got media coverage worth >$2 million; brainstorming a simple idea to do something good saw their brand exposure grow exponentially. This initiative highlights how collaborations with other industries can offer fruitful exposure for pharma companies.
Creative thinking and marketing are cultivating innovative solutions to health and social issues across the world. We are seeing simple, but effective, answers to health crises, and seeing inspirational individuals given a global platform to stand up and shout about their cause. Pharma are experiencing an explosion of creativity, proving that doing good and growing as a brand truly can go hand-in-hand.