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Healthcare creatives need to be more like Bryson

By James Mayfield

Bryson DeChambeau is not your average golfer. He does things differently: he studies every move, challenges the rules and ultimately changes the game. Not everyone likes him, but they don’t have to – he wins.

Bryson employs curiosity, creativity and risk-taking to deliver the unexpected, powering innovation in the game. These are the exact traits creative agencies need to exhibit, to drive change and creativity in healthcare marketing.

Odd bedfellows?

Whether you’re a golf fan or not, the approach may seem unusual. To many, it’s a stuffy, rule-bound game, strictly controlled and conservative – not unlike the pharmaceutical industry. And yet there have always been players willing to take risks and make potentially unpopular decisions, who move the game forward. Bryson is the latest and he’s doing it in a radical way.

Likening creativity in healthcare marketing to Bryson and golf isn’t the most obvious comparison, but in fact there are striking similarities. Passion, skill, innovation and technology all play a part, along with the element of competition. For creatives and golfers alike, the aim is to play the best shots and ultimately win the game (and awards).

Why not just hit it harder?

The best golfers in the world rely on their caddies, who study the course, weather conditions, wind direction and more – in the same way that planners and strategists study the product, its target audience and the overall market landscape. But it’s possible to go further. Bryson applies his knowledge of physics to every move, including mapping the topology of the putting green, to give himself an edge: one that’s smarter and more nuanced than just hitting the ball harder.

In the same vein, a solid strategy and market knowledge are essential to producing powerful pieces of creative marketing that work across different media. That incorporate the subtle depth, insight and strategy lesser creatives would skim over. That shine brightly in the places you least expect. There’s science behind every great piece of art.

Use the right club for the right occasion

Just as a golfer has a bag of clubs, every creative team has a set of tools at its disposal. But technology is only the enabler; it’s the strategy, insight and creative spontaneity that make the best work. Picking a club off the shelf won’t make you a world champion, as picking a series of generic digital tactics won’t make for an award-winning campaign. We need to know what to use, when to push the boundaries and always be on the lookout for new technologies to add to our toolbox.

Just as Bryson diverged from 99% of other golfers and opted for irons that all have the same length shaft, healthcare marketeers need to think creatively about their tools while still playing within the rules. We don’t need to break the rules to do better; we can use them to our advantage and push ourselves to explore new thinking inside the box. We can deliver unexpected creativity that makes it past medical review and into the real world – because that’s the only place it can drive significant, measurable change.

Creating something unique and effective within a world of rules is the beauty of the game.

Isn’t it all a bit samey?

Health is a spectrum: from illness to wellness, prescription to OTC. Each area brings distinct creative challenges and a unique market landscape – so, like playing on different golf courses, varying techniques are needed to play the same game. Clients looking for never-seen-before innovation should look for agencies with broad expertise, whether that’s across the breadth of healthcare or spanning other industries entirely. You never know where a little ‘nudge’ is going to come from – and that nudge could be the one that makes the idea fly.

Don’t be put off by etiquette

Ultimately, it’s not just creative agencies that should be more Bryson. It’s our clients, too. Brand managers need to appreciate the value of true creativity and innovation, rather than seeing marketing as a means to an end. Until then, we won’t see the support for truly creative briefs and behaviour-changing work.

James Mayfield is Creative Director at Purple Agency

In association with

13th October 2021

From: Healthcare

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