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The Porterhouse Medical Award for Innovation in Healthcare Communications

Sponsored by:

2020 Finalists

A Unique Bond

by Burson Cohn Wolfe for Boehringer Ingelheim

Dislike for pharma has never been higher. As an industry leader operating in the much-maligned pharmaceutical sector, Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) had an urgent need – and opportunity – to shift the debate.

BI’s concern was that unyielding public antipathy towards ‘Big Pharma’ risked that the firm’s own pioneering work in human and animal health and its compassionate corporate ethos would be overlooked by external stakeholders. It had to positively stand out in the sector, to challenge negative perceptions and to transform hostility into advocacy, ’A Unique Bond’ did just that.

A strategic campaign that spanned five continents and 30 countries was only made possible by the digital-first approach undertaken by the client and agency team. It broke through the noise to champion the bond between a pet and its owner, and its positive effect on physical and mental well-being.

Unlike traditional pharmaceutical campaigns, A Unique Bond did not focus on a therapy area but on ‘real-life’ narratives. As a direct result of the campaign, BI saw a 1,375% increase in respondents identifying as anti-pharma now viewing BI positively. A bold, brave and emotive healthcare campaign that truly showcased its dedication to human and animal health.

A Path to Cure: Shining a Light on MRD in Multiple Myeloma

by Edelman for Janssen Oncology

Given the great strides that have been made in cancer treatment, the current gold standard measure of evaluating whether cancer treatments provide clinical benefit, overall survival (OS), can be out of date. The concept of minimal residual disease (MRD), however, has the potential to completely change how we think about success in cancer treatment – and what a cancer diagnosis means for patients. This is particularly pertinent in multiple myeloma, a currently incurable blood cancer which 48,000 people in Europe were diagnosed with last year alone.

A lack of consensus on the clinical application of MRD testing is resulting in confusion and the concept and science of it is not widely understood across the broader cancer community.

To address this, we convened the key voices in the debate to shed light on MRD; helping them unlock what MRD means by co-creating a compulsive viewing documentary. This was supported by a targeted social media amplification strategy, which introduced others to the concept, with ongoing online amplification via these healthcare experts.

“Thank you for the initiative and sharing the video. This is very important to a broader audience who is yet unfamiliar with the concepts of MRD.” – Best regards, Dr Bruno Paiva.

In My Shoes: 24 Hours with Crohn’s or Colitis

by Mearns & Pike and Electric Putty for Crohn’s & Colitis UK and Takeda

Right now, more than 300,000 people in the UK are living with a lifelong disease that many people have never heard of. In fact, the real number could be almost double that. Many of the people in the UK living with Crohn’s or Colitis feel that there’s a lack of awareness, empathy and understanding of their condition.

In My Shoes: 24 Hours with Crohn’s or Colitis – by Crohn’s & Colitis UK and Takeda, with the support of Electric Putty and Mearns & Pike – is an immersive app that enables people to step in the shoes of someone living with Crohn’s or Colitis.

The multichannel campaign to support the launch of the app resulted in 23,000 downloads of In My Shoes, over 200 media stories and a social reach of more than 700,000 people. This led to a 27% increase in both empathy and understanding of Crohn’s and Colitis and a significant decrease (almost 50%) in apathy towards the impact  that these conditions can have on daily life.

It Takes Guts to talk about Crohn’s and Colitis and this campaign ignited that conversation.

INSPIRIS RESILIA Aortic ValveTM Mind Racing

by Syneos Health Communications for Edwards Lifesciences

Executive Summary

Edwards Lifesciences were looking for an engaging and interactive congress tactic. The primary task was to improve the knowledge of INSPIRIS RESILIA aortic valveTM, and find an innovative way to draw attention to this equally innovative heart valve and product features. A single-player, Edwards-branded, interactive experience was created, themed around a cycle race for EACTS 2018. Using Mynd Play, which utilises electroencephalography technology, delegates were invited to take part in a race and to ‘come and test the power of their mind’. This original tactic is founded on technology that has been around for decades. By amalgamating old with new, a revolutionary digital experience was born. This similarly imitates the evolution behind the product itself. INSPIRIS RESILIA aortic valveTMis built on the foundation of PERIMOUNT, a trusted valve platform for more than 30 years. We further developed an existing campaign visual by filming a cycle race. We created a setting that put surgeons into the cycling environment to experience the metaphor. The more resilient the mind, the closer they got to a coveted place on our leader board. And the more they were able to reflect the resilience of INSPIRIS RESILIA aortic valveTM.

Experiencing MS First Hand: Virtual Reality Glove Experience

by Weber Shandwick for Roche

Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects 2.3 million people globally,1and impacts people’s cognition, vision and, importantly, mobility.

Maintaining upper limb (hands and arms) function is essential for patients to live an independent lifestyle,2especially those with MS who later in life need to use a wheelchair. However, before being in a wheelchair, not all MS symptoms are visible to others, which means people with MS can struggle to explain what it really feels like to live with the disease. These hidden symptoms can be misunderstood or unacknowledged by people who don’t live with the condition.

Therefore rather than ‘talking at’ the community or adding to the wealth of existing disease information, we chose to put the MS community at the heart of the initiative, and created an interactive experience with a person living with the condition.

The use of virtual reality is known to be highly persuasive for understanding behaviour,3,4therefore to reflect the needs of the MS community we chose to use this technology alongside haptic feedback (another sensory experience) to create a bespoke interactive activity, that brought to life how MS symptoms can manifest in upper limbs. Users were then able to, for the first time, truly experience the challenges of hidden MS symptoms.


  1. Multiple Sclerosis International Federation. Atlas of MS 2013: mapping multiple sclerosis around the world. Multiple Sclerosis International Federation, 2013.
  2. Dubuisson N, et al. Importance of upper limb function in advanced MS: a web-survey analysis.
  3. Kim K, et al. Effects of virtual environment platforms on emotional responses. Comp Meth Prog Bio, 2014; 113: 882-893.
  4. Chittaro L, Zangrando N. The Persuasive Power of Virtual Reality: Effects of Simulated Human Distress on Attitudes towards Fire Safety. Persuasive Technology, 2010; 6137: 58-69.

Executive summaries as submitted.

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Category Sponsors

Jon Pike, Mearns & Pike - Communiqué 2020 winner

Key dates

Entry deadline 11 March 2021
Extended entry deadline 18 March 2021
(additional fee applies)
Judging days May 2021
Awards Ceremony 1st September 2021

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