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The Real & The Honestly Fake

In the age of the Instagram filter and the selfie, there appears to be no place in healthcare creative for false perceptions. You’re either REAL, or you’re HONESTLY FAKE.

On Friday February 1 we attended the PM Society Awards at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London, where we were nominated for two awards. The great thing about these awards is that we had the chance to see each piece of work in depth in the exhibition space, and we do love an exhibition.

Thick and Easy Clear campaign – Page & Page

The work was, of course, of a very high standard and each unique in its own way. It’s a real pleasure to browse (and be a part of) an exhibition of work created by industry leaders working in the same field as we do. On the flip side of that individuality, of those fresh new ideas and original executions, some strong themes did appear.

From what we could see, there seemed to be two ends of a spectrum; two extremes in approach to healthcare communication with a No Man’s Land in between. Particularly, when we look at execution, work appears to be either hard-hitting or casually whimsical, atmospheric and dramatic or cheeky and charming, cinematic or animated, gritty realism (warts and all) or a fantastical metaphor utilising photomanipulation. And there is an obvious increase in the use of videos and experiential events.

In the age of the Instagram filter and the selfie, there appears (and a good thing too) to be no place in healthcare creative for false perceptions. No glossy ideals. There’s photoshop, sure, but nothing is ‘photoshopped’. It’s about the REAL or the HONESTLY FAKE. Portraiture features heavily (old school these days, given the rise of the Selfie) in both photography and video. Good old-fashioned shots of someone, taken by someone else. It’s honest, and it shows a positive movement in advertising as far as we’re concerned. Let’s have a bit more of that honesty, shall we?!

On a similar note, the rise of social media (and by consequence – the reduction of attention span) would appear to be a contributing factor to the increase in video use. If the audience’s attention span has decreased, agencies and advertisers must grab what little attention there is. Using motion paired with sound is a strong start. As creatives, this trend is very much a welcome one. Video and action speak to more senses; you can say more, with more emotion. You can’t pitch a static print ad against a film with a script and a score; it wouldn’t stand a chance. We are currently in the process of developing our own video offering for just these reasons.

More good news is that there’s no place in these awards for work that sits in what we see as the ‘Toothpaste’ zone. A painfully dull area of advertising where nothing comes near to seeing a boundary, let alone getting close enough to push one. A dull area lit only by the beam from the photoshopped smile from a tonally perfect model. The heavily made-up dentist assuring you this product is “recommended by dentists”. At the PM’s we are pleased to report, there are no surgeries and even very few products. The focus is on the patient (as it well should be) and the focus is emotive. We may not know exactly what a condition feels like to live with on a daily basis, but we are using insight and research well to climb as far into their shoes as possible.

Creativity and commitment are still key; still king. When working on a project for an extended period (often months and months), it can be easy to get burnt out towards the end, sacrificing the idea piece by piece in favour of ‘getting it out the door’. But it’s the work that continues to be creative until the day it goes out of the door that wins the awards: the children’s storybook that talks to children about how to deal with Duchenne, the depictions of dragons to represent the struggles of suffering with Crohn’s disease, the emotionally charged film telling the story of loved ones becoming (literal) shadows of their former selves. Hard hitting stuff. Which brings us back to the earlier point – REAL or HONESTLY FAKE.

Overall the PM Awards were a positive and valued experience. There was a positive trend towards the honest and the real over the retouched and the glossy. We look forward to the work to come in 2019.

See all the entry here:

https://pmsociety.org.uk/awards/pm/2018/results-brochure

Authors: Paul Hunt and Jessica Baldock

11th February 2019

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