Brain Candy: Byte-sized Creative Inspiration for Digital Minds—1st Edition

GKblogWhat I love about being an advertising creative is the eternal search for creative stimulus. Always on the search for something that turns your mind on, makes you “think different” and gets you excited to show your co-workers like it was a grade school show-and-tell.

But it’s this stimulus, or this search for stimulus, that really does inspire truly innovative ways to reach our fellow persons with a memorable experience. Sometimes it’s a cool social media tie-in, or maybe a super-sneaky hidden camera capture. Either way, it makes an impression on us and becomes a reference point for the next creative idea, the next killer pitch tactic.

I imagine everyone has his or her favorite sites to mine Internet gold. If you have a site like that, stop hoarding the good stuff and write the next Brain Candy post. Or maybe you just like calling people out for being “two-thousand and late” like an art director I know here at Ogilvy (who will go unnamed for now).

So for now, I’ve collected a few of my favorite inspirations over the last few months to share with you. I hope you find them as inspiring, hilarious and introspective as I did.

Before we dive in, have you seen the site This Advertising Life? No? Really? Then you have to go now… This should be daily viewing for all agency types.

OK, so here are some vids from across the interwebs that I think are pretty cool. Some of them actually lend themselves well as crossovers into the pharma world. But if you can’t sell-in selfies and Snapchat for the latest patient consumer pitch, at least you have some neat stuff to show before your weekly status meeting.

Every now and again you see something and think, “That is genius.” And you just sit at your computer in total awe of your self-contempt for not thinking of it first. Then you think about what must have been going on in that room for someone to have come up with it. Pure Genius.


How do you get a paper poster to turn into a musical instrument? I watched this video three times and I’m still amazed.


I guess you really can’t beat selfies, beer and Twitter. You have to love the Danes, and they definitely love their Carlsberg. Happy hour will never be the same.


This one has been making the rounds lately at the Chocolate Factory—a really impressive way to use augmented reality. We actually worked this into a pitch recently, and this is totally something you can build into a convention experience…minus the alien invasion, I would imagine.


I don’t mean to encourage duplicitous behavior, but you have to admit this is pretty funny. On the other hand, this is proof of concept for a CRM or patient reminder app. This app can pulse out reminder messages to patients to take their meds (adherence), get well soon (post surgical), have a good day (depression), or even send out appointment reminders.


I always loved reading about twin studies from clinical psych class. There’s something really cool about having such a perfect control for a study design. But multiples kind of freak me out in person though. Anyway, you should listen to your mother and not chew gum in mixed company, here’s why.


So you want to have a goof on that dude who’s using waaaaaaay too many hashtags? Here you go, courtesy of Axe. I encourage you all to try this, on yourself!


Now let’s close on a high note…if you’re somehow one of the 2 million people who have not seen this ad, just do it.

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The Future of Journalism

reporter with camWatching the BBC news the other night, my partner Ben turned to me and asked, “What’s wrong with that reporter’s eyes? It looks like he’s checking himself out in a mirror somewhere.” He was right, the reporter was checking himself out, but it wasn’t in a mirror – he was looking at himself in the viewfinder of his video camera. Much like Tom Daly in his famous ‘coming out’ video – this journalist was recording himself, making the rookie mistake of not locking eyes on the lens, but rather admiring himself.

Video journalism, where the TV news reporter has no crew and does everything themselves, is not new. In fact a decade ago, it was touted as a great way to break into the industry as a rookie reporter. Usually video journalists worked for small television stations or were covering stories in remote parts of the world – on their own. Few people wanted to do it, so video journalism was reserved for stories which didn’t warrant standard quality pictures or audio – I mean you can forgive the shaky or out of focus pictures when the story is coming from war-torn Bosnia!

In this instance, however, the story was coming from the relative safety of East London. Why then, with Broadcasting House virtually in shouting distance, is the Capital’s premier news service using video journalists? The fact is, video journalism has become mainstream and is virtually compulsory on metropolitan newscasts and 24 hour news channels. As public relations practitioners, we’re acutely aware of shrinking newsrooms and cuts to editorial staff across the news media – and healthcare media are no exception. The rise of video journalism is one way on-the-spot reporting has survived in a budget conscious media environment. In fact, some online medical media outlets have actually grown their video news in recent years.

So, in a post ‘information superhighway’ world (remember that chestnut?) where to for journalism? The truth is, news tastes are driven by the audience and as an audience, we’re increasingly less willing to wait for carefully gathered, edited and produced news.  Journalism today is a constant tug-of-war between getting it right and getting it right now – and it’s hard to foresee this trend changing.

Immediacy is increasingly trumping quality as a battle for the ever illusive scope wages on. Journalists are fighting bloggers, gossip merchants and even Joe Public to break a story. The only trouble is, professional journalists have the onus of at least trying to get the facts right.

So not only must a journalist get the story out first, she must also be seen as an authority on the matter and be the most prolific reporter. How else would she have any cred on Twitter? When success as a journalist can equally be measured in Twitter followers as the quality of their work – journalism today requires balancing one’s online clout with actually producing quality news copy. So worried is the BBC about the focus moving toward the former, it issued guidelines in 2012 warning journalists not to break a story on Twitter before informing their newsroom colleagues.

As PR’s, we’re increasingly aware of evolving our output to service the needs of the busy multi-platform journitator. After some tweetable nuggets? Every press release will contain some. Need an on-the-spot TV studio for a quick video interview? We’ve got one waiting for you. Want to write your story two weeks in advance for an autofile while you’re trekking in the Himalayas? No problem, we’ll sort you out with an embargoed brief and interview.

It’s hard to say how journalism will evolve over the next decade, but it’s clear the pressure for immediacy is about as high as it could possibly get. With this immediacy comes a power shift from the outlet to the story teller themselves. For the time being at least, this opens up a broad opportunity for PR’s to offer tailored content across multiple platforms – albeit to a shrinking number of journalists.

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Video Is the New Reality

Phone Video_ThumbnailWhen I was in college, I studied both film and philosophy. Regarding philosophy, to paraphrase Steve Martin, I remember just enough to screw me up for the rest of my life.

One of the reasons I love video is that it is a simulated reality. Although print, radio, and poetry all evoke different wonderful experiences, video feels the most like real life.

Simulated reality, though, is not reality, and that’s great! It’s better than reality. Because we can construct the world as we think it is…as we feel it is…as we wish it to be.

And as grandiose and highfalutin as that sounds, it actually applies to us quite specifically in pharma advertising. With video, we can truly bring a brand to life. That’s important. So important, I’ll say it again, this time boldfaced, and in italics:

With video, we can truly bring a brand to life.

Think about it. You can see a product in three dimensions, hear patients or doctors or scientists talk about it, portraying either personal experience, or research, or clinical trials; contemporary 3D animation is so good now, you can see on a molecular level how a compound works exactly. Video is creatively exhilarating.

Audiences these days also crave and utilize video more than ever. What’s the first thing most people do when they want to learn about anything? They look it up on YouTube. Well, they actually Google it first, but YouTube results show up at the top.

Personally, I go to YouTube for nearly everything: to check out music, to learn how to tile a floor, to watch cat videos, or to find out about particle physics. And of course I’m not the only one.

You can count on the fact that any patient or HCP will be inclined to do a search for a product. If there’s a legit-looking video there to greet them, you can count on them watching it.

What do you want to show the world about your brand?

There may be plenty of not-legit-looking videos about your product. Viewers, though, have developed a sense that crappy videos on YouTube are not very credible, and click away quickly.

High production values can deliver a huge amount of credibility to your brand. Not just a well-designed logo, but excellent lighting, good audio where you can clearly hear the voice, beautiful cinematography, innovative motion graphics, sound design…all these things bring a viewer into a world, a simulated reality, that shows experientially what a brand is like.

OK, OK, I know what you’re thinking…you’ve got a little Muse on one shoulder whispering all the cool things you could do in video, and a little Regulator on the other shoulder with a pile of ISI that will have to be attached.

Well, I say don’t worry about it!

Firstly, video producers in healthcare are quite skilled at dealing with fair balance and ISI. We know how to make it quite palatable! Secondly, consumers and HCPs have integrated safety information into their viewing experience. Pharma TV commercials are now nearing 20 years old, so some younger viewers have heard ISI their whole lives and think nothing of it.

Honestly, I’m shocked that more brands in pharma aren’t using video. The other day I went to the website for Moleskine, which makes notebooks. They’re basically a glorified stationary brand. And they have a YouTube channel. With hundreds of videos. Hundreds. About a NOTEBOOK.

Seriously, it’s a digital, digital, digital, digital, digital, digital world. There are videos all over the place. Every new business budget should have a brand video built right in. Not having a video is like not having a logo. But more importantly…

A video represents the best of what your brand can be; a video represents what your brand is, and a video places your brand firmly in the senses of the viewer, creating a powerful and lasting experience.

Questions? Comments? You can contact the author directly at blog@ochww.com.
Please allow 24 hours for response.

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