Calling on pharma creativity: Enter work in the first-ever FiercePharmaMarketing Awards

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Cannes, the Clios and even the Effies honor creativity in advertising—and that includes pharma and healthcare. But the pharmaceutical industry has never had a Fierce creative award. Until now.

Judges in our first-ever FiercePharmaMarketing Awards are looking for the best and brightest in pharmaceutical advertising across seven general categories including TV, print, digital and outdoor—and having seen previous winners in other contests, we know there’s a lot of it out there.

The traditional problem of creativity in pharma is that it’s often sidelined. The arguments against it are familiar: The industry is too regulated, consumers don’t like pharma ads no matter what you do, or let the drug results speak for themselves.

However, those old excuses don’t work anymore. Creativity not only matters in pharma, it’s also necessary. Today’s consumers already tend to cast pharma as the big bad, and expensive, wolf, yet that’s even more of a reason to use creativity to tell the stories behind innovative, lifesaving, and quality of life-enhancing medicines.

Besides, the truth is we’re living in a branded world. Brands are creating content, engaging on social media and building communities of fans and ambassadors. While marketing a pharmaceutical brand is certainly different from marketing a consumer brand, the customer experience is a key ingredient in both categories' success.

“Across industries, best-in-class companies are increasingly organizing their business around what customers want,” McKinsey & Co. analysts wrote in an article last year. “That’s seen not only as the value delivered by the product or service itself, but as the entire experience of learning about it, choosing it, buying it, and using it in day-to-day life—what’s usually described as the customer journey.”

They add later, “For most pharma companies, this represents a major shift in thinking. It requires putting not the product but the customer at the center of the launch, and addressing customers’ emotional and behavioral needs as well as their clinical ones.”

That advertising may not take the form of big-budget mainstream creative that becomes a cultural phenomenon—like for instance, Verizon’s “Can you hear me now?” (which incidentally was coined by one of our judges, Matt Eastwood, who is now chief creative at McCann Health)—but it is an important part of what FiercePharma is looking for in these awards.

Creative, thoughtful and well-planned patient-mindful advertising connects with patients, caregivers, physicians and other pharma stakeholders.

The deadline's coming up for you to send us yours. Find the information here—FiercePharmaMarketing Awards—and enter by Sept. 13. You'll put your work in front of a world-class panel of judges from a wide swath of pharma and healthcare agencies. (Judges will be opted out of their own agency submissions.) They will assess the work based creativity, strategy, audience impact, social good, innovation and effectiveness.