Grand Jury Spotlight: Khalid Latif

Khalid Latif is a Creative Director at WEBER SHANDWICK, LONDON

Global Awards | October 09, 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. After finishing his biochemistry degree in 2001 and discovering there was life beyond the lab, Khalid pursued something he thought he’d be reasonably good at. A career in healthcare advertising. For once, he was right and made his mark as a copywriter at Grey and DDB before putting down roots at Publicis Life Brands for almost eight years. During this time, he helped turn the agency into an award-winning creative powerhouse. Now, with 18 years’ experience in the industry, he’s embarking on a new challenge as Creative Director at Weber Shandwick. As for Khalid’s work, some people think it’s up there with the best. He's done well at many of the big award shows including the Clios, One Show, Globals, IPA, Creative Floor, Cannes Lions and Lürzer's Archive (to name drop a few). Most recently, Khalid created a film with acclaimed director and industry-renowned enfant terrible, Tony Kaye. It’s a long story. Ask him about it, but please make sure there is ready access to a plentiful supply of alcohol. Everything he will tell you is true.

Global Awards: What new trends in healthcare advertising have you seen emerge in the past year?

Khalid Latif: There’s been a lot of focus on creating things that aid diagnosis or help people with specific conditions overcome everyday challenges they face. Agencies are even partnering with start-ups to create problem-busting products. This is useful work that can impact lives in positive ways, as long as there’s a commitment to ensure these creations are seen in the real world and not just by awards juries. Data is becoming ‘a thing’ that everyone seems to be talking about too. Data can provide some great insights and used in really smart ways, but it shouldn’t overshadow or lead an idea.

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

Khalid Latif: Most definitely yes. When I first started out, health was seen as a bit geeky, very straight and it was assumed to be far too serious or complex to have fun with. Now, all that has changed. For many brands, and agency folk, health is the place to be! I’d partly put it down to the fact that health, in general, has become simplified and accessible. When you have the likes of Google, Amazon and Apple all taking a serious interest in health, it stands to reason that other companies will want to get involved. In this phase of purpose-driven, responsible advertising, I would say showing up to help improve and support people’s health and wellness is very high on most companies’ lists. Society demands it now and, as long as it makes sense and isn’t too contrived, I like seeing it.

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?

Khalid Latif: Pharma is a funny one. It’s still (quite rightly) heavily regulated and doctors will still rarely prescribe a drug because: “Wow. That headline really blows my mind.” But, over the last few years, pharma advertising has become less about traditional, message-led advertising and more about creating things that genuinely help patients and their care teams. I think the work will continue to evolve and improve as agencies learn how to exploit restrictions, dig for sharper insights, and build talented and diverse creative teams. On a practical level, disease awareness and education are things that pharma companies are increasingly taking responsibility for. A bonus is the creative opportunities here tend to be pretty decent too.

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?

Khalid Latif: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with purposeful work that attempts to do some good. If you’ve got a lovely, open brief and the potential to do something super creative that might put your agency on the map, go for it. However, judging this stuff along with the types of projects we do everyday isn’t really fair. You can’t expect a jury to award a beautifully-designed detail aid over something like Breathless Choir, Blink to Speak or Immunity Charm. We have to make sure the work competes on an appropriate level in the most suitable categories. Once we, as an industry, are able to show clients some of the amazing things we can do with an everyday brief, it’ll become a lot easier to move creativity in pharma even further.