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The Last Creative Revolution

Thinking back to when I first started in advertising seems like another lifetime. And in a sense, it was. 

As a young copywriter, all I had to think of were mostly 30-second commercials and print ads. On top of that, great creative work wasn’t ubiquitous across product categories. Only specific industries – German sports cars, running shoes, and occasionally some alcohol brands saw such work.

I remember being fresh out of the Creative Circus, a creative portfolio school in Atlanta, and receiving a call from a slightly embarrassed recruiter about a junior copywriter position at Saatchi and Saatchi to work on Tide. 

“Tide! Are you kidding me? What would my fellow graduates think of me?” 

Needless to say, I passed on the position and, like any self-respecting creative I tried (in vain I will add) throughout the first two decades of my career to only work in industries where the path to great work and creative awards was clearly mapped out. 

Well, we all know how the Tide brand netted out when it comes to excellent creative work. And the list of brands and industries that redefined creativity goes on and on. I still remember when financial services brands were in similar creative purgatories. E-trade, Ally Bank, Citi Bank, and a list of others changed all that. 

The point is, the creative advertising revolution that started in the 1960s eventually found its way to industries like household products and financial services, and yet for some reason, finding breakthrough creativity in healthcare today is like trying to find someone sober at an Irish pub on St. Patrick’s Day. It’s pretty rare.

For far too long, there has been a separation between creative and what many call “healthcare creative.” So let’s be honest about what that truly means: there is a lesser standard for healthcare creative, and no one is expecting much from it. 

How sad. 

Sad because other brands and industries would kill for just a fraction of the rich and emotional storytelling fodder that runs through healthcare. Our industry is full of breakthrough innovation, life-saving medicine, hope, joy, and humanity – saving the lives of children, developing immunotherapies to fight and cure cancer, extending life, giving life, pushing humanity forward into uncharted territory.  

I mean, if we can do great creative around some fabricated benefit in the new “flavor-blasted” Cheetos, there is no excuse for the lack of great work in healthcare. The material is real, emotional, and soaked in human truths. 

At ReviveHealth, we believe that gone are the days when we could separate our industry from our standard of work. As marketing and advertising professionals, we shouldn’t stand for it anymore. And as modern brands, we can’t get away with it anymore. Times change and smart brands and industries change with them.

Today, people choose authentic brands that fit into their lives and make them feel something – happy, confident, safe, wanted, and human. Showing a smiling doctor on a billboard with a U.S. News & World Report award badge next to them does not make me feel, well, anything except maybe just a little bit ashamed. 

As healthcare marketers, we need to start acting like modern brands. We need to stop pushing ads out, and we need to start pulling people in. We need to be bold and fresh. We need to be relevant. We need to be authentic. We need to be honest. We need to find ways to fit into people’s lives. We need to stop pretending that people care about what we have to say and actually make them care. 

Simply put, we need to stop doing healthcare creative and start doing just great creative.

October 15, 2019
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