Will the real Smart Creatives please stand up?

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Exploring the rise of the Smart Creative in the development of breakthrough healthcare communication

Pharma is undoubtedly experiencing an evolution as new digital platforms and technologies enter our market. Pharma companies constantly have to recalibrate their marketing efforts to keep up with the vast changes brought about by digital technology. The need for refined marketing techniques in key healthcare areas such as compliance and the delivery of treatment, in combination with the changing role of the sales force, are setting in motion innovation to improve conversations between healthcare professionals and patients.

To ensure we keep up with the latest technology and develop successful communication experiences, the role of strategists, developers, writers and designers are undoubtedly changing. Clients want to know that you understand them, understand their challenges, understand their industry, and understand what needs to be achieved together. Mostly, they want to know that you seriously understand it.

Over the years I have interviewed many young designers wishing to enter the advertising world. Pharmaceutical advertising is in a class of its own and I always received the same questions:
“Do I need to understand how the products that I’ll be designing for - work?”
“Do I need to understand the regulatory implications and limitations for the life science industry if I’m not a scientist or do not have a medical background?”

The answers to these are simply: Yes! And yes! You really need to understand all aspects of our industry. But simply understanding it might not be good enough anymore.

Enter the Smart Creative

As a Smart Creative you have to be led by a desire and passion to develop breakthrough ideas, initiate change and find solutions for difficult challenges, fast. Smart Creatives are technical thinkers and digital doers who bring new ideas to life. They are the ones who find the right message for the right customer. A Smart Creative sees the direct line from strategy to design to tech and champions the value of all three.

The term ”Smart Creative” was first coined in the book “How Google Works” by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg in 2014.In the book, the authors describe the type of employees Google wanted to attract, along with some strategies of how they started their unique hiring and retention process. In the book a Smart Creative is also described as a type of person who isn’t afraid to try something new, someone who will do their best to collect relevant data and analytics to make sure their ideas are viable and foolproof. Smart Creatives chase the ability to cause change and disrupt industries.

But what does this mean for the improvement of digital experiences in pharma?

In many marketing strategies SMART is also an acronym: S for Specific, M for Measurable, A for Achievable, R for Resonance and T for Time.


Before any creative starts working on a new idea it’s very important to decide what we need to achieve specifically. Do we want to educate? Boost sales? Retain or convert customers? Perhaps increase brand or disease awareness? A Smart Creative will always find the best solutions aligned with a brand’s strategic imperatives in order to deliver on key business objectives. Being more aware and involved with the choice of marketing tactics, a Smart Creative really understands the benefits and limitations of the specific channels they are developing creative for, as part of any brand’s omnichannel experience.


The Smart Creative understands that any marketing effort and communication element should turn into results you can measure, and milestones your client can track. This way, brand teams can evaluate the success and progress of their tactics. The pandemic is fundamentally driving the need for better digital technology, and new platforms are integrated into all marketing ventures of pharma. KPIs that really deliver insights and demonstrate success are becoming more important than ever. KPIs used for patients are very similar to ones used for HCPs – touch, engage, participate and action. A Smart Creative develops written or visual communication approaches that will successfully track important data aligned to these KPI steps.


A Smart Creative supports their strategy and tech teams by setting clear and achievable goals for clients. Resources, digital expertise and budgets might differ from global to local markets and these factors will need to be taken into account along with the development of specific tactics to ensure success. One size simply doesn’t fit all! Some ideas, solutions or platforms or are not always suitable for implementation in all markets.


To maintain relevance and ensure healthcare narratives truly resonate with HCPs and patients, Smart Creatives need to truly understand new industry trends as well as the changing needs of their audiences. Successful healthcare communication is delivered through language and messages that resonate on a scientific or emotive level. Truly knowing who we are speaking to, what we need them to do next, how we want to make them feel and where they will be most susceptible for the message are some of the most important questions any Smart Creative should ask every day.


It’s no secret that setting realistic milestones and deadlines play an important role in the success of any project. Ambitious marketing endeavours can be achieved if they are broken into smaller segments, tracking progress better and keeping teams motivated. Effective time management is normally not something you would associate with any creative, but a Smart Creative understands that speed-to-market can ensure an important competitive advantage and increase market share and profitability. Time here also refers to identifying the best stage to deploy or share relevant information with audiences. Something urgent for clients might not be urgent right now for customers.

Again, a Smart Creative can support strategy and media buying teams in the choice of channels and most appropriate times to share content.

At Anthill Agency we develop breakthrough ideas by fusing innovative strategy and visionary design into rich brand experiences. We understand the complexities of healthcare communication to successfully grow your brand’s digital footprint. We improve interfaces by fusing refined visual solutions and the latest technologies into engaging digital messages. We create solutions with specific users in mind and determine the best ways for these groups to consume content.

We are Smart Creatives

For more information on how to develop a Smart Creative approach as part of your existing marketing experience, contact André Hansen, Creative Director at Anthill Agency:, tel: +45 70 20 26 25.


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