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McCann Health's next challenge: creative differentiation

New global chief creative officer Matt Eastwood talks to PME about McCann Health’s future as a creative advertising agency

Matt Eastwood

No sooner had McCann Health welcomed Matt Eastwood as its new global chief creative officer than he begun devising plans to enhance the agency’s creative spark.

McCann Health – part of the broader McCann Worldgroup – poached Eastwood (pictured above) from J. Walter Thompson (JWT) at the beginning of this year.

As an advertising creative by nature, Eastwood has worked on his fair share of briefs spanning multiple industries, but what drove him to the healthcare space, and in particular to McCann, was a shift in the industry.

“The entire healthcare industry is shifting its focus into consumerisation. Consumers are taking much more control over their health and as a result, pharma is realising that it needs to start speaking with a consumer voice.

“The move is changing the way pharma communicates and this became clear to our CEO John Cahill, so as a result we are positioning ourselves to prepare for that shift and one way that we are preparing for that is hiring those with a less traditional creative background.”

Eastwood already has ideas on how to approach this. He says there are plans in the making for McCann to roll-out a scheme to encourage young creative minds to move into the healthcare advertising industry.

“I want to help young creatives not only develop into great creatives, but grow into great leaders of the future. The scheme could potentially bring in new people who hadn’t originally thought of advertising as a career path, and that’s the thing I love about advertising. It doesn’t really look like advertising anymore and that’s a big thing to tell creative minds. It isn’t like Mad Men, where you’re working on campaigns for Heinz; it’s much more than that.

“I want to help young people understand that even if you’re not what you call a traditional creative, even if you come from a tech background, you can bring knowledge into our industry and do something that carries meaning.”

There are plans to implement the scheme in three major hubs – London, New York and Japan.

“It’s very early days,” says Eastwood “but the programme could stretch to smaller markets as well. If I left any legacy behind then I would love [to have been] involved in the agency that helped spearhead the future for young creatives and develop them as leaders in the industry.”

Alongside Eastwood, McCann Health appointed Nick Bartlett (below) as its President, Northern Europe last month and it has confirmed its plans to make additional leadership changes within the coming weeks.

Nick Bartlett

Bartlett will help Eastwood implement new changes across the European region. He said: “The reason why Matt is absolutely vital for the next five years is his experience. He brings consumer knowledge around behaviour change and, of course, this is what’s next for pharma.

“Matt is also here to encourage us to be more bold and proud of the work we do, and reveal what that work means to our clients.”

Over the next 12-18 months Eastwood plans to steer the company in a new creative direction, and this will be rolled out across the wider McCann Health business.

“The biggest challenge we’re facing with clients is getting them to think outside their comfort zone. There are traditions within pharma and the health industry that have been embedded over many years, and I want to encourage clients to think outside that paradigm.

“I’m trying to enact a shift in our company and in our industry. It’s not always easy, but it’s a fun challenge.

McCann’s challenge internally is one that will mirror the challenge it faces externally.

“One of my favourite pieces of advertising is the Immunity Charm. It’s a brilliant, creative solution that solves a vaccination problem. I want to build on this way of thinking and encourage our external clients and our internal workforce [to see] that the solution may not always be a grassroots education campaign.”

Immunity Charm

The Immunity Charm programme was rolled out in Afghanistan, where rural communities suffer with inconsistent services due to the war that has been waged for more than a decade.

Vaccinating children is a prime example of a struggling service, with the paperwork often getting lost. However, the immunity charm acts as a physical record, with each charm on the bracelet representing a certain type of vaccination that the child has had.

“It’s clever and culturally relevant,” added Eastwood. “This is the type of change I want to help create with our clients, backed by behavioural studies and data, and the reaction so far has been positively received.”

Article by
Gemma Jones

21st February 2019

From: Marketing



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