Grand Jury Spotlight: Craig Chester

Craig Chester joined Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness, Sydney where he has led the creative department for just under five years, helping to make it one of Australia’s most awarded health and wellness agencies.

Global Awards | October 07, 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 years working on consumer brands in Australia Craig moved to London where he accumulated an impressive portfolio of work for various health and wellness brands over an eight-year period. After returning from the UK, Craig joined Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness, Sydney where he has led the creative department for just under five years, helping to make it one of Australia’s most awarded health and wellness agencies. He believes in unique, simple, beautifully crafted ideas that tell a memorable story and ultimately lead to client success. He has won countless awards at shows in Cannes, London, Australia and the USA, including 14 Global Awards. He has also served as a juror at the Global Awards, Lions Health, Spikes Asia and IPA Best of Health, among others. His work has featured in Luerzer’s Archive.

Global Awards: How have empowered and informed patients changed the way Healthcare & Wellness brands connect with the consumer?

Craig Chester: The challenges faced by healthcare and wellness bands wishing to successfully connect to consumers are numerous.

Consumers are more interested in their health than ever before. They are using wearables and other devices to track data about their own bodies, and their activities to build up a detailed personal picture of their health. Also, online health information that both informs and misinforms is accessible and plentiful to all.

As a result, healthcare companies can now tap into the vast data produced by consumers and perfectly tailor their messages to individuals. Technology is rapidly changing the way consumers experience healthcare and AI-driven diagnosis promises amazing benefits in the future.

This increased self-awareness means that in today’s and tomorrow’s world, brands and services must be seen as credible, as people will only entrust their health and the health of their loved-ones to the brands they have faith in. Brands that take the time to build up their credibility now will have the edge in the future.

It is also vital that pharma companies ensure healthcare professionals are one step ahead of consumers heading their way.

From a creative point-of-view, communications that cut through the clutter are now more important than ever. Campaigns built on a unique insight that entertain have the ability to shine, provided the messages delivered are perceived as sincere. Innovative and inventive communications that captivate and amaze also continue to evolve and make their mark.

Today, to truly connect with consumers the right tone-of-voice remains incredibly important. Consumers can see through bullshit and they don’t want to be advertised to. I think that the less your ad seems like an ad, the better.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the need to give consumers something they care about. Something that moves them and can incite action.

Global Awards:  What multi-channel techniques are you using to engage on behalf of brands?

Craig Chester: We provide strategic direction to our clients based on real-time, behavioural-based insights drawn from on- and off-line behaviour across healthcare professionals and consumers.

Through our ‘Customer Insight Analysis’ propriety tool we can gain access to millions of Australians’ online activity every day.

This allows us to uncover otherwise unobtainable insights into disease areas, lifestyle choices, patient and HCP interests, to track conversation and behaviour and so much more.

The anonymised data obtained is used to develop accurate marketing strategies for our clients that enable their brand or service to connect with their target audience in a more precise, personal and meaningful way. We can then develop more engaging creative campaigns that are based on reality, rather than pre-conceptions.

Mass marketing through multiple channels is therefore often not required. Instead, the mined data allows us to deliver messages to individuals via one or two well-chosen channels. We strive to deliver precision marketing at scale.

Global Awards:  As you make your way through life, you encounter inevitable health issues with friends and family. Are there any diseases, issues, conditions that you have a yearning to work on?  Why?

Craig Chester: My Grandfather was one of the most intelligent, switched-on people I have ever known. Over a decade I watched as Alzheimer’s disease slowly eroded his mind and sadly, his relationships with family and friends.

In the later stages of the disease, just prior to him going into full-time care, he went missing for 3 days, apparently walking the streets with no idea of who he was or where he lived. We were told by the police who eventually delivered him home to us that they had received a call from a member of the public who believed he was a homeless drunk.

I’d therefore, jump at the opportunity to help Alzheimer’s patients and their families in any way possible.

I also currently work in the area of schizophrenia and have discovered that many of the homeless people we see talking to themselves on the streets, actually suffer from the disease. Most are there because they have failed to get treatment or have refused to take it.

I think it’s so sad that many who pass them by, believe that they are no more than someone to avoid.

Given the story of my grandfather and the above, I would also love to produce some work that educates the public on the homeless and encourages people to be more empathetic. Even better would be to create a campaign that helped these people get more support, off the streets and into care.

Global Awards: This is more of awards and advertising question.  There seems to be varying opinions about the nature of the content awarded top honours 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?

Craig Chester: Before answering this question and potentially raising a few eyebrows I would like to make a few things clear.

  1. I enter awards, have judged awards around the world, our agency has won creative awards in the last 12 months and I believe in the value of awards.
  2. I am the ECD of a healthcare specialist communications agency in a small market in Australia with a client base that includes many pharma companies.
  3. My comments relate only to healthcare award shows that I believe were primarily set up to celebrate creativity in healthcare communication globally.

So here we go.

Healthcare award shows should and do raise the creative bar, but there needs to be more to them than that.

Wellness and pharma companies employ healthcare specialist communications agencies to help them sell their brands and services. They choose them for many reasons, including their ability to produce communication solutions for their brands that get results. Brand advertising that raises the bar, in spite of the various rules and regulations the agency had to overcome to produce it.

In short, they want agencies that can produce the kind of work that is winning fewer and fewer creative awards year-on-year. And I think that this is an issue that needs addressing.

I constantly discuss award winning work with members of our creative department. We applaud most of it, but there is often a BUT!

Best-of-shows, golds and even silvers are rarely awarded to campaigns produced for the kind of projects we work on, work promoting brands that had to be approved by a client’s very strict medical department before moving forward. Top honours are rarely going to brand advertising that is a creatively brilliant answer to a paying client’s brief. Nor to brand campaigns that were only permitted to be seen by healthcare professionals which therefore limited media options. Work that was great, but not as exciting as the winning work that didn’t have these barriers to overcome.

What is most concerning is that top honours are rarely going to work relevant to my clients that I can share to inspire them to raise the bar.

Please don’t misunderstand me.

There has been much work done for causes that is outstanding and deserves its time in the lime-light. But there needs to be more balance.

I have also found myself questioning the number of product innovations and inventive gadgets winning big. While many of these pieces of work are undeniably brilliant, how many healthcare ad agencies around the world, particularly in small markets, have clients that require or want such work?

While I believe there is a place for all of the above in award shows, there is a need for change. The aim of award shows should be to raise the creative bar, not to set the bar so high that it can’t be reached by those working in agencies without a pro-bono client, an agency slush fund to pay for the campaigns production or a million dollars to develop a game-changing gadget.

I want the creatives in our agency to be inspired. To look at a good proportion of the winning work and to believe that with real talent, hard work and passion they too can succeed at award shows.

I want our paying clients to see more creatively brilliant work promoting similar brands and services to theirs and to want to do even better.

Surely this is after all, the way to raise the bar where healthcare advertising is concerned and, in the process, educate people on the vast number of medicines that enhance and save lives while simultaneously helping our clients and our industry flourish?