The ‘Golden Rules’ for effective creativity in healthcare marketing

Issue 5, May 2021

"The ‘Golden Rules’ for effective creativity in healthcare marketing"

Bastion Brands Executive Creative Director Bruce Williams argues positivity and understanding are the keys to enhancing the power of human connection in healthcare advertising.

If you’ve been thinking there’s a lot of ‘sameness’ to the look and feel of marketing campaigns these days, you would not be wrong.

COVID has changed the way we communicate. It has been a great ‘leveller’ in that today we are much more sensitive to respect and understand the state of mind of our audience.

No truer is this than in health care, where the tone and voice of messaging has been decidedly more serious and inclusive than ever.

How often over the past year have we seen the words ‘We’re all in this together’ or ‘In unprecedented times like these…’

Focus On The ‘Good’

Given the grim nature of the global health outlook, it’s not surprising that we are looking for messages that say the opposite. We don’t want to be reminded of the ‘bad’: we want to focus on the ‘good’.

Key words like ‘hope’, ‘optimism’, ‘care’ and ‘support’ are the new ‘buzz words’ when we talk how brands desire to be perceived.

In terms of creative execution, it’s often hard to evaluate with accuracy the trends in marketing. However, a recent search and sales data report from global stock image provider Getty Images has revealed a profound shift in what advertisers are seeking to share with their customers.

Big Shift In Messaging

The results from a March 2021 survey of more than 10,000 consumers and professionals in 13 languages across 26 countries*, were striking.

The report showed searches around ‘mental health’ had jumped into the top 10 in 2020 (from only the top 20 in 2019), a clear reflection on the importance of the issue we face today.

Additionally, a sharp surge in searches around ‘support’ (+63%) and ‘kindness’ (+84%) highlight the desire we now have for sharing positive imagery and messaging.

In short, image searches reveal that content is shifting from depression and distress, to reflect a more optimistic and hopeful outlook.

Arguably, this makes it even more difficult for brands to truly differentiate, however there are still three golden rules to making sure your marketing is hitting the right tone.


The Getty Images report revealed 79% of consumers are wanting companies to “not just show people of different ethnicities… but capture true lifestyles and cultures.”

It’s just one element of realism that can help your brand feel like it understands and is in tune with real life.

Another consideration might be, where possible, to use actual patients (and therefore create photo assets that are unique to your brand). This approach resonates much more with target audiences, with the key focus on their story and how your brand has enabled a transformation or change within the individual.


The Getty Images report also highlighted the need for inclusivity, “with eight in 10 saying they’re expecting brands to be consistently committed to inclusivity and diversity.”

Once again, the results tie back to a desire from consumers for brands to go beyond the tokenistic: to the authentic. If done well, you reach a level of relatability that will resonate greater with the Australian consumer.


Finally, don’t just say, DO!

Sweeping statements are easy to make. Proving them and demonstrating the reality will provide true stickiness.

So, from saying ‘we’re all in this together’, to then showing what that means. The ‘here’s what we’re doing to help you’, is a vital step. It’s actually the step that says ‘we aren’t just in this for the money, we are in this because we actually care and ultimately want what’s best for the people that touch our brand – both internally and externally.’

While the world has searched for images and words that describe positivity, optimism and hope, the brands that go the next step and actually offer that in real terms are the ones that will flourish.

At its core, the promise of pharmaceuticals is that they will make people better – not just feel better, but actually protect, provide relief and cure.

When you think about it, that ‘new car feeling’, or confidence you’ve chosen the right insurance pales to insignificance when you have been cured of a disease or in remission, thanks to the right treatments and drugs.

‘Hope’ is a core word to start the process. More importantly, positive and real outcomes, inclusivity of your customers and demonstrating how you are helping them on their journey is how your customers will truly remember you.

*GETTY IMAGES, Visual Storytelling in the time of COVID-19: How to maximise your brand’s impact on consumers webinar, March 22, 2021


Simon Davies
M: 0402 425 545


Bruce Williams
M: 0407 359 582


We are always interested in hearing from great people dedicated to making a career in pharmaceutical communications. If you’re ready to make a positive impact with Bastion Brands, get in touch today.