FCB Health’s Area 23 is the latest pharma and healthcare agency to lure a creative chief from consumer marketing. Its new executive creative director, Marcus Kawamura, is a 20-year consumer veteran with a who’s who of consumer brands in his portfolio, including Volkswagen, Visa, Pepsi and Verizon.
Kawamura previously served as executive creative director at mainstream ad agency Crispin Porter Bogusky—well-known for its envelope-pushing Burger King and Domino’s work—and as associate creative director at global creative powerhouse AlmapBBDO in his native São Paolo, along with art director stints at Leo Burnett, Y&R and DDB.
While Kawamura admits he didn’t expect to take on a pharma gig, he's eager to join Area 23’s creativity push in the industry. He’s working now to get up to speed on pharma technology and terminology, but he pointed out that an outsider perspective gives him an edge.
“Sometimes a fresh eye helps with a new way of looking at things,” he said, adding that “the bottom line is doctors and patients are people, too.”
Pharma marketing creativity may not have seen its due in 2020 in the pandemic scramble to kick digital communications into high gear. Yet the pandemic may also offer pharma its best chance in years to push the creative envelope.
With many people paying close attention to the industry—and giving pharma props for its pandemic efforts—companies can take advantage of the limelight to experiment with advertising and marketing.
“It feels like the door is open for trying new ways to bring people in—to stop and think about the best way to deliver messages and empower people,” Kawamura said, adding that the onus is now on the industry to step up to that challenge.
Kawamura, who goes by the nickname Kawa, reports to Area 23 chief creative officer Tim Hawkey, who has led the agency to a slew of creative pharma and healthcare awards over the past decade.
“We are so excited that Kawa is joining Area 23," Hawkey said in a statement, "as he is a legend in the industry and I’ve been following his work and career for years. Kawa will undoubtedly contribute to our mission to solve the world’s biggest health-communication problems with jaw-dropping creativity.”