The reason most of us are involved in the healthcare communications industry is not for the heady rush you get from a reading a bloody good clinical paper, or for that unmistakable quickening of the pulse you can only get from being briefed on the next tabbed detail aid. The real reason most of us haul our asses into work on a daily basis (other than pay and contractual obligation), is for the opportunity to develop relevant and strategically sound cool stuff!
The challenges we often face are:
- How to get to a strategically correct, genuinely creative product in what is often quite a dry, data driven and cautious environment
- How to bring the creative product to life without the idea being eroded to the point of impotence
Number 1 is very much down to the briefing process, the talent and teamwork within agencies and companies and is something we always strive to improve. Number 2 however, is more about how we manage the creative process with our clients and how to ensure that what we are selling (the creative product) remains true to the idea whilst remaining grounded in the realities of the business objectives of the brand.
I don’t profess to have any magic solutions to these challenges (sorry!), but having read “The link between creativity and effectiveness – More findings from The Gunn Report and the IPA Databank” (available here), it seems there must be some parallels we can draw which will help us with challenge No. 2 above.
The Gunn Report itself “combines the winners’ lists from the top advertising awards contests in the world in order to establish the annual worldwide league tables for the advertising industry”. In 2010 The Gunn Report merged its awards data with the IPA effectiveness data (data source of the IPA Effectiveness Awards) to produce “The link between creativity and effectiveness”. Now in its second edition with an expanded data set (435 case studies over a 16 year period), the study examines both effectiveness and the efficiency of creatively awarded and non-awarded campaigns. It seeks to provide a rational basis for enhancing creativity in our industry and it’s this “rational basis” which can help us ground our conversations and underpin the rationale behind a creative idea.
If you’ve had a chance to read the report, a glaringly obvious fact you will have noticed is that this paper was looking at the consumer advertising world, and within that mostly TV advertising (77%) but also print and online . Clearly a different territory to where we operate, however, the facts and figures are robust and the principles sound and in the absence of a similar report on healthcare communications, it is these principles (backed up by the data) which can help to guide the language we use with our clients to ensure our creative work pushes boundaries and remains true to the original idea.
The overall findings of the report are:
- Creatively awarded campaigns are more effective than non-awarded ones despite lower levels of Extra Share of Voice or ESOV (share of voice minus share of market)
- Over the entire 16 years of campaigns examined in this study, creatively awarded campaigns were 7 times more efficient than non-awarded ones in terms of the level of market share growth they drive per point of ESOV
- Creatively awarded campaigns appear to achieve their greater effectiveness levels with greater certainty than the non-awarded campaigns: they are more reliable investments
- For equivalent levels of investment, creatively-awarded campaigns achieve broader levels of success across greater numbers of business metrics beyond share growth and the greater the level of creativity, the greater the level of effectiveness.
In addition, the link between creativity and effectiveness appears to be driven by two important factors
- The preponderance of emotional communication models amongst creatively awarded campaigns
- The much greater buzz effects of creatively awarded campaigns
It’s probably important to say at this stage that it’s not all about awards. “The link between creativity and effectiveness” paper uses case studies from a list of awarded campaigns but the point is that if your strategy is right and you have the talent to push the levels of creativity of your campaigns, then statistics support that the campaign will be more effective.
Whilst admittedly, the world of healthcare presents many different challenges to those faced in the consumer world, believe it or not, our customers are people too and successful brands find ways of tapping into the emotions and engaging with audiences in a way that cold hard data can never hope to achieve. Whilst the data is critical, underpinning our offer with scientifically proven reasons to believe, what our brands offer over and above this is what we hope to communicate with insight driven, strategically sound creative work. This study provides guidance for us to link creativity not just with the hunt for awards and recognition but with the effectiveness and efficiency which our clients are striving to achieve. It’s potentially great ammunition for convincing clients to push the boundaries. All we need now is a healthcare focussed version….Anyone?