When two juggernaut industries unite, pooling their collective outlooks and expertise, the potential to influence is amplified and inevitable. While potentially controversial in some contexts, the union of pharmaceutical companies and advertising agencies has proved to be safe and productive ground. Ever since McCann opened one of the first dedicated healthcare branches of an agency in 1970, these two industries have been collaborating in abundance to improve the reach of medicines around the world as well as awareness of both prevalent and rare diseases.
While these are crucial and important missions in themselves, the tide is changing, and the quest must be expanded to take on a new, more holistic shape. “Generations are now expecting us to promote social justice and sustainability,” explains Sumant Ramachandra, President, Pharmaceuticals, and Senior Vice President, Chief Science and Technology Officer, Baxter International, at the 2021 HBA European Leadership Summit. “We are seeing our clients move towards a regenerative future,” affirms Wendy Clark, Global CEO, dentsu international, and Executive Officer, Dentsu Group, speaking at Cannes Lions Live 2021. “They are not running growth and good in parallel; they’re really moving to a growth from good outcome.”
While many pharma companies have held strong values on ethical issues such as climate change and health inequities for some time, Lisa O’Sullivan, Growth Lead, Global Health, Porter Novelli, comments that these approaches are handled “sometimes without fanfare” and that “there is much more opportunity for industry to be much more integrated and amplified in communicating the extent of its commitment to societal impact and purpose at corporate, franchise, and brand levels.”
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