Healthcare Business Leadership Health

‘Less about ads and more about acts’: what healthcare marketers want to see next


By Sam Anderson, Network Editor

March 17, 2023 | 5 min read

At a recent roundtable with healthcare marketers from The Drum Network, our panel shared their hopes for the future. Here are their full responses, including a focus on prevention and ‘baked in’ purpose.

A doctor wearing a virtual reality headset

What’s coming next in the healthcare space? / Bermix Studio via Unsplash

Jennifer Webb, director of strategy, TrunkBBI

I’d like the healthcare world to start focusing on prevention. A lot of the chronic conditions that we’re suffering with can be prevented; I would like to see the healthcare industry move to that space, where they really care about not just the patient, not just about selling them something, but about their world.

Also, our doctors are massively overburdened. If you look at this model and the way we’re developing with mortality rates, our healthcare system is going to burst. Now is a great opportunity to doctors’ and patients’ voices to make a change; not just to go unbranded, but to get on the prevention bandwagon and start to think about how we can create a healthier world.

Colin Duft, account strategy director, Coegi

The pandemic was a tragedy. But it was a time in which we really focused on ourselves and healthy living and preventative health: practices that I don’t want to see go away as the pandemic fades out. Prevention is key and it starts with us as consumers being mindful and tuning into preventative practices. With that, it becomes that much easier to reach those consumers to make an impact. Brands can do their part in that.

Nigel Downer, senior vice-president and head of Jack Health US, Jack Morton

Healthcare brands are at a bit of an inflection point. I’d love to see them embrace the spotlight that’s being shined on them and really start to tell stories about prevention. I’m a big believer that brands have powerful stories to tell in this space and have not always done it well. I’d love to see them really embrace that and tell the story, prioritizing it in a way that’s less about ads and more about acts. Something that really stuck with me years ago was when CVS took tobacco products out of their stores, a huge brand act that really stood for something. I’d love to see brands do more of those things.

Dan Russell, managing director, Seven Stones

I’d like to see the consumer and healthcare worlds come together in a more authentic collaborative way. I’d also like to see consumer brands apply a more evidence-based approach to back up their claims. Take the brand Berocca: what makes that ‘You, but on a really good day’? Does it actually make you feel so good that you can run up a log on water?

And I’d like to see the pharma brands use what they know about things, like how exercise can improve outcomes, to give them a competitive edge over and above the product offering, not just selling a pill. Why can’t an oncology drug have a higher purpose? Or look at the benefits of exercise during cancer treatment: you could do like a whole digital platform around recording your exercises and tracking them alongside mood or health outcomes to create a purposeful brand.

So often you have big ideas, but nothing the next layer down. If consumer and healthcare agencies stop being separate entities and come together around bigger ideas, I think you could get to richer and deeper campaigns that do the top-tier interest- and fame-driving stuff but also pull it all the way through. The sky could be the limit.

Corrina Safeio, group managing director, Evoke Mind+Matter

I think what we’ve seen, even in the last couple of months, is that health is firmly on the news agenda. We’ll see continued growth in the sector as clients become ever more sophisticated in how they do marketing and communications. They will grow in confidence as we celebrate that. Ultimately, that’s where consumers, patients, and healthcare professionals, really benefit from us. Purpose is really baked into health; there’s an extra responsibility that we have: it’s incumbent on us to make marketing budgets work as hard as possible so that we can help people to be proactive about their health and help those who need treatment. I think we’re looking at two years of solid growth.

Healthcare Business Leadership Health

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TrunkBBI is an award-winning integrated agency made up of 70 specialist thinkers, creators, analysts, influencers and technologists. Inspired by insights, we’re...

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Seven Stones Collective

We believe great creativity leads to good health. Yet to live healthily in the 21st century, demands multiple systems, activities, specialists, beliefs, products,...

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Jack Morton

No one sets out to be average. No one aspires to be ordinary. Jack Morton is an award-winning global brand experience agency that exists to reimagine what an experience...

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Coegi is an independent digital agency providing services across digital strategy, media buying, paid social, search and influencer campaigns. We bring together...

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Inizio Evoke

Inizio Evoke is a global health marketing, communications, and transformation platform unlocking growth through data-driven insight and human centricity. Purpose-built...

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