360 Degrees on Lions Health with Gustavo Pratt

Welcome to 360 Degrees – where thoughts on brands, marketing communications and entrepreneurship are shared from different perspectives. I have the pleasure of introducing an international creative force in pharma brand communications who also happens to be a friend, Mr. Gustavo Pratt.

Gustavo’s career began in Mexico where he developed campaigns at BBDO, Ammirati Puris Lintas, DDB, Saatchi & Saatchi and Young & Rubicam. A relationship with GSW on their Lily account in Mexico led Gustavo to work for GSW in the US as Vice President International Creative Director, responsible for global creative exercises and also acting as the international link to keep the creative teams together. Later Gustavo returned to Mexico to head GSW growing their business from four accounts to 30 brands in the first year. After being managing director at Sudler & Hennessey, he now leads his own agency, *Asterisco Healthcare Communications supporting a growing roster of international and national clients from his base in Mexico City.

Earlier this summer Gustavo traveled to Cannes where he was a judge at the second annual Lions Health Awards that is the opening event of the seven day International Festival of Creativity. Lions Health brings together leaders from around the globe to celebrate, share and discuss brand communications in health care, pharma and wellness. Creative excellence is recognized with the prestigious Lions trophies. Over the course of the entire week over 11,000 delegates from 90 countries attended with over 34,000 entries being showcased or judged.

SA: Thank you for sharing your Lions Health conference experience Gus. How did you first get connected with this event?

GP: Thank you Stephen for such a great welcome. I was invited, I think from my trajectory, my career and the experience I have developed over the years of working in the pharma advertising industry. It was truly an honor to be the only Mexican in the pharma jury and to bring the LATAM point of view to the table.

SA: Apart from being a conference connecting leaders in health care communications from around the globe and situated in the south of France, what makes this event special for you personally?

GP: It is the Oscars of Advertising, the best of the best…of the best in the advertising world is there. All the great work and great ideas are going to be judged there and to get your work recognized at the Lions Health is truly an honor. Personally it means a lot, not only for the recognition, but also for the networking, being able to connect with friends again and also making new friends, the best talent in the world.

SA: As a judge evaluating the creative entries, how do you go about deciding what is a winning entry?

GP: It is purely based on the idea…the best ideas really move the people, move the patients, move the doctors and in this case move the jury. The most creative ideas were the ones that really got an award or the shortlist recognition. I saw great and powerful ideas that really touch the mind, the heart or the soul. I can tell you that what we saw was the best of the best in pharma, healthcare and wellness in the world.

SA: Is there typically a lot of debate among the judges or is there generally consensus on what is “award-winning creative ? How do you reconcile differing opinions in order to reach consensus?

GP: The great ideas, the best ideas, simply pop up. I can tell you that the idea that won the Grand Prix simply struck us from the beginning, getting the most points going into the shortlist and then getting a gold and then the Grand Prix. A powerful bold and great idea for a pharma company like AstraZeneca to have two fishes talking about triglycerides…simply great. But also, there were some pieces that needed more talk and discussions. I have to applaud Rob Rogers, our Jury President, he established a respectful, creative and open environment for discussion, so everybody who had a point was heard and everybody respected that. The discussions were amazing and very valuable, moreover being open to different points of view really enriched the process and made it great.

SA: Lions Health is of course not just about awards but is a forum for connecting creative minds. What is it like being there and did you get a sense of a connected global creative community?

GP: Absolutely!!!! Cannes is not just only the awards or the show. The connections and networking that you do there is one of the best in world; you connect with senior executives and creatives from the big network agencies and the small creative boutiques that actually won big awards…and also with people that you can´t be around, like the UNICEF directors, the ADOBE team, etc. It really gets you connected, again, with the best of the global creative community within my field, pharma advertising.

SA: At the risk of generalizing, did you perceive any major differences between the creative this year as compared to last year? And if so, in what ways?

GP: This year was better!!! I think last year, which was the first, everybody was doing their entries their way; this year it was perfected and also the work was more brilliant than last year. I can tell you this, this year we had a Grand Prix, last year it was deserted. The ideas in 2015 were better, more accurate…

SA: How does participating in such an event, especially as one of the judges, change your outlook on pharma brand communications?

GP: It just pushes myself and my agency to do better work for my clients in Mexico and also to bring my clients the “Cannes experience” and show them what is going on in the world regarding pharma advertising in every category…It is definitely a must for agencies, marketing managers and people doing communications for pharma. The standard has gone very high and that simply benefits everyone.

SA: What did you take away from the conference that will shape the creative development at *Asterisco Healthcare Communications or for you personally?

GP: Innovation is the DNA of Asterisco and if I would tell you one thing regarding what I found in Cannes is that…innovation. Looking for ways to do things differently and apply technology to the service of the doctor and the patient. And the mind shift that the entire industry around the world is suffering…in a good way!!! Technology is making health care more accessible to all. And as an agency we have to push ourselves even further to be more innovative.

SA:  We are all health care consumers responsible more than ever for our health and wellness. How do we, the consumers, benefit from events like Lions Health?

GP: As consumers/patients we get a great benefit from ideas that really can transform the world for example there was an idea using the Hindu “bindy” to help women get the iodine that they need daily… a community in one country like Mexico benefited from a book “in the own dialect” to help them talk to their gynecologists, a small village in Thailand was helped by an iron fish…etc. By the way you can see all this ideas here: http://www.canneslionsarchive.com/winners/categories/lions-health

Also, innovations are changing our approach to healthcare. For instance, the brand new company, Theranos, is changing the way blood tests are done in the US, forming an alliance with Walgreens to offer, not only a price accessible test, but the big change here is who the owner of the result is…the patient!!!! He/she owns the information, owns his/her blood and the result...then he/she will be able to share it with their doctor…The patient decides, because it is his/her information. That small change will have a greater impact in the years to come. Here patients, like you and me, will have the center stage, so now patients will get better treatment, a more human and caring treatment.

So in time the ideas that were shown there I think will make their way to more communities, more countries, even the entire world. Some of the ideas were based on technology, implementation of those ideas will be faster…so we can expect maybe changes regarding apps, devices, education and information faster!!!

SA: Thank you very much Gustavo for sharing your insights and perspectives on this year’s Lions Health conference. For those of us who did not have the opportunity to share in this year’s event your comments painted a vivid picture and give us much to think about.

GP: Thank you Stephen, it was my pleasure.

Stephen Armstrong is principal of The 360 Marketer, a consulting firm offering strategic and tactical marketing support for emerging and established brands. For more information, please visit www.the360marketer.net and follow @the360marketer.