Grand Jury Spotlight: Gianpaolo Palombella

Gianpaolo is a Creative Director at McCann Health London.

Global Awards | October 08, 2019

Each year, the Global Awards recruits some of the world’s most prominent award-winning industry creatives and thought leaders to serve on the Global Awards Grand Jury. Gianpaolo is a Creative Director at McCann Health London. Born and raised in the deep south of Italy, he started his career in small agencies and worked his way up. After moving to Milan, he worked for consumer agencies before transitioning into health; a choice that completely changed the trajectory of his career. In Milan, he worked for 5 years at Sudler & Hennessey on many European and Global brands before making his move across the channel. In London, he worked first for Digitas Health and two years ago moved to McCann Health, where he’s led his team to many award wins, including Clios, Epica, LIA, Creative Floor, Globals, One Show and more.

Global Awards: Is Wellness advertising increasing, if so, how has the market changed within the last few years?

Gianpaolo: Wellness is a trend right now. Brands are trying to find their meaningful role beside their products. It's not about what they sell, it's about where they stand in a complex 2019 society. The new generation wants to know if the detergent they're buying believes in gender fluidity, supports the LGBTQ+ community and is going to ditch plastics anytime soon. It's not just about the product anymore. This is what's bringing brands to create a wider experience around them and wellness is a territory that allows them to do that without being too controversial. It's good though, don't get me wrong, anything that helps the industry is more than welcome. We just need to go beyond the trend.

Global Awards: How about Pharma – has the landscape of Pharma advertising changed in the last few years and where do you see it going moving forward?

Gianpaolo: Well, Pharma is the gift that keeps on giving. A few years ago it was a struggle to push the boundaries, now that  boundary seems to be pushed constantly. I think it's becoming even more interesting than health and wellness. It's the next holy grail, and it's there for the taking. None of this would have happened without people like Andrew Spurgeon, Tim Hawkey and Shaeed Peera to mention a few. They saw all this coming way before all of us so thank you to them.

Global Awards: What creative work on behalf of brands both wellness and/or pharma have you seen recently that are breakthrough in creative and effective?
Gianpaolo: I think that's the one of the problems with our industry. Why are we looking at breakthroughs? It looks like we either do classic pharma work or breakthroughs. There's no greatness in the middle. That's what we should celebrate. The best breakthrough we can have is to keep doing great work.
Global Awards: This is more of awards and advertising question.  There seems to be varying opinions about the nature of the content awarded top honors at Healthcare Awards show 5-10 years ago, and what tends to win in today’s competitions.  There are some people that believe the bar is being raised, and there are some in the industry that believe the everyday work is getting outshined by causes.  What are your thoughts?
Gianpaolo: The good old awards dilemma. Well, I think it's a matter of perspective. Let's put it this way, brands like Tesco or Walmart make hundreds of ads every year and they manage to win with 3 or 4 pieces. We do 1/10 of that for each brand so our chances go down dramatically. Then consider the work from Tesco or Walmart actually wins. Is it the ad in the daily newspaper about meat price? No, it's the big multi million dollar campaign. I think that applies to us as well. We don't win awards with Sales Aids because they're just less interesting than a film, a sponsorship, a side project. That said, certain award shows still need to figure out juries properly. If we put everything together into a big box and start comparing an awareness project in collaboration with a major brand to a print campaign you can see that there won't be a fair balance. We need specialised juries based on category or media or craft. There can't just be one winner for health and one for pharma. You wouldn't do that with consumer brands.