The Creative Challenge in Healthcare

Creative ChallengeAs a 25+ year veteran of the creative side of agencies, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a ton of very interesting clients in a lot of different industries, from commercial airlines to amusement parks to casinos. As a creative director and writer, it’s my job to look at the brand and decide how best to bring it to life – whether it happens to be in a microsite, an app idea, a TV spot, a print ad or whatever. Should we use humor or should we be serious? How far can we push the creative? Whatever we do, it has to be consistent with the essence of the brand. And it has to connect with the audience in a fresh, creative way.

Healthcare is very challenging because it is a very emotional topic for many reasons. All of us either have someone in our family or our circle of friends who has been touched by illness or disease. And we’ve either had a good experience with physicians and hospitals or we want to forget it ever happened. As a creative director, you not only have to understand your client and the brand, you have to completely understand your audience. And you have to tread lightly with how your message is delivered.

You can be lighthearted, but oftentimes humor just doesn’t play well with such serious subject matter. If you try to get too emotional, you can be accused of being manipulative. It really is a fine line to walk.

I go back to something I learned about communication and advertising a long time ago. I think the quote came from Howard Gossage: “The real fact of the matter is that nobody reads ads. People read what interests them, and sometimes it’s an ad.” These days, it could just as easily be referring to a Facebook post or a Tweet or a blog entry like this.

You have to engage your audience. And it doesn’t hurt to tell them something they didn’t know before. In the case of healthcare marketing, tell them something that will help them out should they or someone in their family ever get sick and need a physician or hospital. You can still entertain and educate and endear your reader or viewer to your brand or product. It’s a bit harder with subject matter that’s a serious as health, but it can be done. We hope you’ll see some work on our Jennings site that does that.

Here’s a few examples of some recent work that stood out to me as doing it, too:


Hi. We’re Jennings. We’re in Durham, North Carolina and we live and breathe healthcare marketing.

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