Grand Jury Spotlight: Nicholas Capanear

Nicholas Capanear is an Executive Creative Director at GSW New York. Smart ideas, smartly crafted shouldn’t be a rare thing.

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. Nicholas Capanear is an Executive Creative Director at GSW New York. Smart ideas, smartly crafted shouldn’t be a rare thing. That’s how Nick attack’s every project at GSW New York, where he’s worked with some of healthcare’s biggest client’s including Amgen, Celgene and Boehringer Ingelheim. Under Nick’s leadership, GSW New York has grabbed creative accolades at the highest levels of advertising award recognition circuit including recently the London International Awards, Communication Arts, Clio Health and inclusion in the pages of Luerzer’s Archive Magazine 16 times in the last 2 years.

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

Nicholas Capanear: Definitely see more “products” being developed by agencies as a way to solve creative challenges. I was a big fan of the prosthetic “The Fin” that was created to boast a hospital’s innovative prowess a couple of years ago. I’m guessing the brief called for the agency to “communicate how innovative we are”. And instead of saying they were innovative, they proved they were by making that prosthetic. Another example I like is what the agency Joan created called “womanikin” which educates about providing proper CPR to women. Smart stuff. There are of course many other examples including FCB’s grand prix from this past Cannes Festival.

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? 

Nicholas Capanear: I’m most interested in working on diseases or conditions that have been less well tread. For example, we’re entertaining a new business pitch right now that deals with achondroplasia (dwarfism), so that’s more interesting to me than the thousandth time I’ve had to think about something like say diabetes.

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?

Nicholas Capanear: This is an example of where the lines are blurring between health and wellness and other industries and how much “reach” healthcare really has. It permeates lots of other areas. Take what Ikea did with “ThisAbles”, which won a Grand Prix in health and wellness at Cannes this year. It’s not something you’d normally think of for a branded piece of creativity in health and wellness. Obviously, Ikea isn’t a “pharma” brand but they created something to help disabled people so it’s “wellness” for a brand that isn’t a medicine and really has no obvious connection to healthcare. This is an exciting by-product for the healthcare ad industry. I don’t think other industries have the same kind of tentacles.

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?

Nicholas Capanear: The bar has undoubtedly been rising for some years now. The next 10 years in healthcare advertising will look nothing like the last 10 years, it feels like we’re in the midst of a sea change. A renaissance in the quality of creativity in this sector and the sort of “old guard” approach that once dominated is fading. I think what’s being awarded is a reflection of this. The larger question in mind is “Why is everyday branded work too often lagging behind in terms of quality when compared to cause directed work?” That calls into question lots of other variables. Not least of which is the additional regulations applied, but in my opinion we can’t continue to use that as an excuse for mediocre results.