Pharma is one of the most exciting industries in the world – not to mention profitable. The work that is being done in genomics and personalised medicine challenges belief as we witness science fiction become science fact before our eyes on an almost daily basis. Yet – the creativity and innovation that defines the lab side of the industry is often hard pressed to see the light of day in how many of these brands view their advertising and marketing.
One of the key takeaways from this year’s Cannes Festival was the lack of creativity within the Pharma category in general, which is surprising when you consider just how many companies, products, brands and services fall under the title. There are even rumours that the Pharma category may be dropped in the future. That is significant and potentially very problematic for Pharma companies.
Let us look to the technology sector for a moment to see why. Firstly, for more than a decade, technology companies have been using the power of ‘creative’ advertising and marketing to not only sell their products and services, but to create cultures that appeal to the smartest and brightest of minds. This has given them a massive advantage as we now see many Pharma companies struggling to find the talent they need with the lure of Apple, Google and Facebook appearing to be much more attractive to new recruits.
Then there is also the more tangible and immediate impact advertising and marketing has on investor confidence and share price. Technology companies surround each new launch with a fanfare of promotional activity. Pharma companies on the other hand, tend to be much more conservative in their approach – so we don’t generally see the spikes in share-price that we do in other sectors.
Whilst it is true that the regulations and compliance requirements attached to the Pharma sector are restrictive, they do not go so far as to prohibit creativity. Great and effective work can and should still be produced within these parameters. As agencies, we need to do more to educate Pharma on the importance of creativity as a tool for enhancing and promoting their work, and as clients, Pharma companies need to challenge agencies that are providing them with mediocre work.
With the Jury, currently out on the future of Pharma at Cannes as a category, let us take this as a wake-up call and actively work with the sector to reposition ‘creativity‘ as an essential ‘effectiveness‘ tool within the Pharma mix.