2017 Executive Jury Spotlight Interview: Guy Mastrion
The Global Awards Executive Jury of prominent Chief Creative Officers, Managing Partners, EVPs, and Executive Creative Directors are recruited from the world’s foremost healthcare advertising agencies. Our juries' dedication and high standard of excellence have meant that the ongoing legacy of the Globals is respected around the world, both by the winners themselves and in industry reports measuring the competitive excellence of worldwide advertising and communications competitions.
The Global Awards asked 2017 Executive Jury member Guy Mastrion, President & Chief Creative Officer of Brandforming™ to weigh in on the state of health, wellness, and pharma advertising.
Guy is no stranger to the world of Health & Wellness, as one of the original founders of Palio, he was instrumental in establishing the organization as a respected brand with offices and affiliates around the globe. He is a founding member of Watershed Bridges and founder and Chief Creative Officer of Brandforming™, a multidisciplinary, strategically driven, creative organization.
An award-winning creative with work spanning local, national, and international markets, Guy’s expertise has garnered honors in all the prominent competitions including The Globals, CLIO, Cannes, Graphis and New York Festivals.
Guy is paying it forward for the next generation of creatives; he was recently appointed the ninth
F. William Harder Chair of Business Administration at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs. His classes on branding, marketing, and creativity are sought-after experiences at the college.
Below, Guy shares his perspective on the evolution of global health, wellness, and pharma communications.
Is there confusion in labeling creative “Healthcare & Wellness” vs “Pharma”?
Guy: I would call it more of a frustration than confusion. I think at this point we’re all clear on how we have come to define the differences. That said, the debate about Health & Wellness vs “Pharma” didn’t exist at this level before digital-social. They are separate things. Apples vs Oranges. These days we see these incredible creative executions in the Health & Wellness category from around the globe that clean up at the awards shows. Many of these are big, expansive ideas that are unencumbered by U.S. culture and regulations. For agencies operating inside the U.S., the frustration comes with a lack of opportunity for this type of work and the lack of recognition for “Pharma” work. By separating them into two categories and recognizing them as two distinct types of work we breathe new life into the majority of work that is getting done every day around the world in support of brands. It’s hard work to do well and it should be recognized. Individual categories will encourage entries into both and relieve the frustration.
How do culture and consumer experience play into the overall creative mix?
Guy: It has a significant impact. Broadly speaking, healthcare initiatives outside the U.S. have traditionally been driven from a more socially conscious perspective. DTC advertising is not allowed in most other countries. Therefore, digital-social technologies are not looked at as another media to exploit in pursuit of sales. They are understood as a powerful set of tools to better inform and engage society about issues pertaining to health, disease and community care. Much of the work that results from this perspective is work of a higher calling, more closely aligned with a community zeitgeist. As a result, we see these big, amazing, socially conscious ideas emerge.
In the U.S. it is quite the opposite, where Health & Wellness initiatives are subverted in service of brands focused on hitting sales targets. The ability to market directly to consumers in the U.S. has created an environment in which truly liberated, big, socially conscious ideas are encumbered by the judgment of how they might immediately and positively impact sales. This is a shortsighted approach that hampers not just creative potential, but society as a whole.
With the influx of wellness campaigns vs adverts for pharmaceuticals, how does Pharma compete with its highly regulated guidelines?
Guy: The first part of the answer is simple: don’t compete. It is Apples vs Oranges; both need to be judged within their own context. Now that we have individual categories, this should no longer be a problem. If we really look at what has been going on, agencies have understood that traditional “Pharma” work cannot compete, so they’ve invented ways to show off their creativity and stay competitive in the awards shows.
Agencies pursuing Health and Wellness work that do not have clients willing to fund it are left chasing ideas without the means to get them produced. So, the agencies that can afford it have been developing and producing their own ideas.
Since agencies are full of clever people, it’s now become a yearly gambit to see which agency will invent the best problem, association or other idea as a means of producing something that can compete in the Health and Wellness category.
One could argue that the agencies that do this are adding value to the industry because they challenge us to push further and perhaps help advance a more socially conscious perspective. Conversely, we might consider the negative impact of ignoring the other important work that gets done in pursuit of a trophy. By its sheer creativity, this trend has dwarfed other work constrained by regulations and has created an imbalance in the type of work that gets entered and awarded in the shows. This is why it has become imperative to create separate categories. Let’s keep pushing the work and let’s do it across the board.
What are the challenges and benefits of judging work from around the globe?
Guy: The benefit of judging different types of work from different parts of the world are many. The process underscores the similarities as well as the differences and offers important opportunities for learning something new, including insight into how we might achieve a healthier balance in awards shows.