Twelve months ago I was asked if instead of a festive greetings card, could we try and raise enough money to send 10 children to school in Africa. Of course, I was delighted to do something more meaningful than cards. This time of year can inspire the the very best from our society, and perhaps now we need it more than ever.
It should have come as no surprise to me, that repeating last year’s feat was not enough. Why fund individuals’ education, when you can build a school? This year, in support of Born To Thrive, we will build classrooms. How many? The target is one, but I certainly won’t be betting against a few more. #LYNXLife
I’m often asked about how hard it is to be CEO of Havas Lynx? Managing 200+ diverse experts? Preserving 30 years values & culture? And the answer is simple – it isn’t, at all. I have the best job in the world. I work alongside the most amazing people, doing amazing things. I don’t inspire them, they inspire me.
Following on from Carers Week 2015, we reflect on the need to do more to support caregivers and introduce our study into the holistic needs of those who care for people with long-term conditions.
‘Being a carer in 2015 can be incredibly tough, taking a huge toll on health and mental wellbeing, finances and relationships. More and more people are taking on a caring role – 10.6 million over the course of this Parliament. So getting it right for carers has never been more imperative. Carers can’t carry on doing this alone.’
– Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK.
Last week was Carers Week in the UK, an annual campaign that raises awareness of caring, highlights the challenges that carers face, and recognises the contribution that carers make to families and communities throughout the UK.
All week, at events and via the internet and broadcast media, stories of the commitment and devotion of carers have been shared. As was the case at Local Solutions’ annual information event at St. George’s Hall in Liverpool on Friday, which brought together charities and organisations to showcase the services available to carers. It was wonderful to see so many people coming together in support of the caring community, and it raised reflection on whether pharma does enough to support carers.
The importance of the efforts of carers cannot be underestimated. To many patients, they are a lifeline; without carers, many simply couldn’t manage. To the British economy, they’re indispensible, saving the public an estimated 119 billion pounds a year.
Whilst the pharma industry is not immune to the importance of carers, it’s rare to find pharma-initiated interventions that target carers.
Why should pharma help?
Often the question is raised of which professionals are the gatekeepers to patient care, but arguably no one professional could be more important to the success of patient outcomes than the person caring for them every single day. Ensuring their health and wellbeing can drive greater treatment success. It’s also worth noting that carers are often ‘patients’ themselves; in a 2012 survey of 3,500 carers, 53% said they have suffered a long-term condition or illness, whilst 39% had put off medical treatment due to caring responsibilities.
Additionally, this is a group of people whose need for support is greater than ever. In spite of the indisputable fiscal and social value, cuts to financial support in recent years (such as the ‘spare room tax’ and the introduction of personal independence payment) have put carers under increasing pressure. Reports on carer wellbeing indicate that this is a strain they could well do without. Carers UK has recently published research showing that 82% of carers feel that looking after a disabled or older relative or friend has had a negative impact on their health.
The statistics are both alarming and compelling, but to uncover the full story and better understand what can be done to help we need to speak to people. It’s with this in mind that, over the coming months, we’ll be talking to carers about their needs and what impact caring for a person with a long-term condition has on their lives. These interviews will form part of a quantitative study to be included in our autumn white paper later in the year.
‘Everywhere I see the mistake of ignoring that people have priorities in their lives besides merely surviving another day.’
– Dr. Atul Gawande
In Britain, the current strain on the NHS is a key topic as we head towards the general election in May. In the closing moments of a live debate on Channel 4 News last night, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt commented that, ‘for the public, it’s not about public vs. private; it’s about good care vs. bad care’. But do we know what good care is?
The healthcare industry has been built upon treatments. Progress to date has been based on innovating around the molecular, on tackling problems in the minutiae of the atomic arena. It has brought some incredible advances and delivered great success in changing lives.
However, it’s a focus that ignores the bigger picture of the patients these treatments are created for. Patients whose conditions may infiltrate every aspect of their lives, and have consequences that they live with until their dying day. For these people, treatment is just one aspect of their journey, and the care they require extends far beyond this. They need help in communicating with professionals, understanding and accepting the implications of their condition, taking control of their health and the other aspects of their life it affects (work, finances, family). Unsupported in any of these instances, patients can feel isolated, confused, and deeply unhappy.
In his BBC Radio 4 Reith Lectures in December, Dr. Atul Gawande exclaimed that, ‘we’ve been rather limited about what we [in healthcare] think our job is, building systems of care for human existence. We think our job is to ensure health and survival, but really it is larger than that. It is to enable wellbeing, and wellbeing is ultimately about sustaining the reasons one wishes to be alive.’
We need to pay greater respect to wellbeing and happiness. It might sound trite to say that happier patients are healthier, but improved wellbeing has been shown to improve cancer outcomes, lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, encourage adoption of healthy behaviours, and even lengthen lifespans (amongst other health benefits).
In an era in which healthcare moves to outcomes based performance models, ensuring patient wellbeing could be a catalyst for improved treatment-brand success. It’s time to look far beyond the pill, from the beginning of a patient journey to the very end, and provide support at every moment in between. Support that instils patients with the happiness, confidence and encouragement to stride on toward a positive outcome.
For more on the power of subjective wellbeing and holistic support, read our latest white paper, Smiles That Save Lives
Watch our introduction of our interview with Lucy May Middleton, holistic support advocate and educator here
I talk about this a lot, but make no apologies for the frequency. I’m proud to work in Pharma, and see it as an opportunity to use insight, imagination & innovation to make a difference. I didn’t choose to work in healthcare, I simply liked ideas. In all honesty, as a bullish graduate I would have preferred Nike over Pfizer, but the world changes, and so do we. Today I choose to have a significant impact on society, over a cool one.
Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, says: “The business benefits from ethical practices are not soft ones about reputation or image. They are hard measures of growth and margin improvement. Wherever you look, it’s a no-brainer“.
I agree 100%. Havas Lynx aims to help patients, their families and HCPs to improve outcomes, whilst also driving the commercial success of our clients. We call it #HelpfulChange, and whilst it sounds improbable and unrealistic, it has been the central strategy behind our success. It aligns with the increasing trend for Pharma companies to out behave the competition & benefit through their enhanced brand equity. Unfortunately the more conservative in our industry wait for others to fail & win by default. Doing nothing, but doing nothing wrong, they would argue. These people fear their brand, and lack the courage their power affords them to improve society. Those that embrace this power, those that choose to make a difference, and show courage in their actions, will succeed in today & tomorrow’s social world – they’ll have a brand with meaning.
Johnson & Johnson have invested in Care4Today, through Janssen Healthcare Innovations. Like many others, they believe innovation can improve outcomes. However, unlike the majority, they have invested significant time & resource to bring forward that day. They will both make a difference, and secure a competitive advantage.
AstraZeneca invested in a critical testing infrastructure for non-small cell lung cancer. Monthly tests increased from 18 to 452 over the course of the campaign. Patients were more accurately diagnosed, treatments more accurately prescribed.
Novartis support Skin To Live In and, despite the regulatory challenges, aspire for it to be the most progressive campaign in healthcare communications, supporting the community & building brand equity – a fair trade.
These are just a few examples from our portfolio, beyond Havas Lynx there are numerous other superb cases of brands doing good and making money. It is the future of our industry, one that will be shaped by passion & courage.
Dr Nick Broughton is Medical Director of HAVAS LYNX Medical and has a strong interest in the ethics of business and compliance. Nick tries to explore the good and not so good in an industry he cares about. Below he writes about narrative education.
Narrative education: The power of storytelling, the importance of the individual and the start of a radical shift in pharma, by Dr Nick Broughton.
Boston 2013 and a bunch of agency types collect in a rather cramped and faintly dismal hotel function room for an afternoon of whatever it was the meeting agenda said. Into this arena of postprandial apathy steps Dr Rita Charon foremost exponent of narrative medicine and it appears she has forgotten her slides. Nothing appears on the screen behind her save for an artistic abstract featuring, as I recall, purple lines and black rectangles.
With nothing on the screen to stimulate the senses, a confused audience turns its attention to the quietly spoken senior gentlewoman occupying stage front. The lady is talking, clearly though not loudly, and with little, if anything, that could be described as so vigorous as a gesticulation. All I could think (given the piscatorial attention span of the average agency executive) was that I hoped the gags were good. There were no gags.
Dr Charon told stories. Individual patient stories recounted with depth of feeling and detail no one had witnessed before and, unexpectedly, the audience was rapt. These weren’t case studies as beloved by clinicians (49 year old man with three year history of x, had lab results y so I gave treatment z) or patient pictures (photo of healthy looking smiley person with something chronic and life-shortening) as beloved by the more naïve end of the pharma marketing community. These were stories that put disease, healthcare and treatment in their proper place within the context of individual human lives: narrative medicine.
The point here is that it is impossible to understand the impact of an illness on an individual without understanding the individual’s story. The effect on a person of being diagnosed as HIV positive is quite different depending on their marital status, their age, their culture and, most significantly, a myriad of factors particular to them. This is the ‘data’ you need in order to act for that individual; this is the patient story. The art of the good doctor is to understand the narrative so as to be able to understand the disease and target therapy appropriately. Good medicine is narrative medicine, but narrative medicine is also, I would propose, good education. Dr Charon in describing the narrative of a patient with a rare disease indelibly imprinted the memory of its signs, symptoms, treatment and outcome in the memories of one hundred people who, up to that time, had lived in happy ignorance of any such disease.
Yes, stories are powerful but it’s really a bit glib to leave it at that. Storytelling, story appreciation and story learning are hard wired into our brains. We humans consume and repeat stories rapaciously all across our lives. From gossip down the pub, to jokes, to news stories we frankly can’t get enough. We absorb stories to the extent that we can completely suspend reality in pursuit of story enjoyment. When you turn on Coronation Street you (probably) know it’s not real, it’s being displayed on a flat screen for one thing, it’s shot in a studio, the actors appear in the papers, but none of this interferes with your appreciation of the story. It gets more bizarre still – theatre goers watching Shrek (the stage version naturally) rapidly forget their own presence when sat in rows in front of the acting ranks to absorb a story about an eight foot ogre. The truth of the story does not impact their appreciation or indeed their memory of it, and that latter fact is the crux of the medical educational opportunity that good storytelling represents.
The obvious opportunity in storytelling is to educate about disease, treatment and outcomes through the prism of individual patient stories as evidenced by Dr Charon. Good case studies told well on the congress stage can get part way there as they recount the triumphs and tragedies of a diagnostic conundrum, but they lack the medically irrelevant human details they need to make them good stories. Good storytelling needs that characterisation to make you care about the outcome and a good plot to surprise and dismay you along the way. Us humans like a structure to our stories, a set-up, a series of crunch points, a climax, a resolution. If you are Quentin Tarantino you might get away with mucking with plot structure but lesser mortals shouldn’t bother.
A good patient narrative, in effect an anecdote, is a Trojan horse for knowledge that our brains are unlikely ever to be suspicious of, but we must avoid confusion with anecdotal evidence. Patient stories should represent tested evidence and medical fact or give pertinent lessons on the unusual and be clearly labelled as such. This missive is not a plea for Daily Mail medicine.
Of course, such thoughts could be seen as a bit drippy in the hard EBM world we live in today; narrative education as I’m describing here is hardly mainstream. What’s wrong with explaining medical matters in blocks of prose with umpteen graphs and a slug of stats? What do you mean you can’t remember it? Thing is though, underneath all the bluster your top KOL/external expert/therapy area expert (the names vary – the gist is the same) is just the same story loving beast as the rest of us even where medicine is concerned. Telling the tale of your new medicine’s development, the characters, the failures, the blinding insights and the dumb mistakes can be an intriguing cocktail if told well. It has the useful spin off that for many a HCP it provides the first realisation that there are one or two steps for pharma before selling a drug.
Training on storytelling recently I got into in-depth discussion of whether storytelling could ever impact on that most sacred of objects, the clinical paper. Do they have to be quite so dull and unmemorable? I know we all (well ‘piscatorians’ at least) read the abstract and only carry on if there is something positive but it still seems like a wasted opportunity.
Wouldn’t it be cool if you wanted to pick up a clinical paper for the pleasure of reading the story within it rather than as a necessary drudge to find the interesting bits? More seriously, when reading clinical papers is such hard work is it any wonder we naturally ignore those that hold only negativity and non-significance. There are patient consequences to positive bias as our friend Dr. Goldacre has recently been explaining, but unlike him I suspect the issue is grounded more in human disinterest in the uninteresting than pharma malevolence.
The structure of a story, its characters and plot is one thing, but above all a story needs a storyteller. Stephen Fry I suspect could read a train timetable and keep us fixated. Harry Potter would have passed unnoticed into oblivion if his many exploits were described in an SOP. Execution is critical and herein pharma has created its own demons by spending too long supporting too many mediocre medical story-tellers to speak on its behalf.
Times are a changing and, I suggest, it’s about time. Pharma is equipping itself and its medical teams for a radical shift that will involve it speaking more for itself about the medicines it develops, the research it does, the lives it improves and (yes) the profits it makes. The shift is barely underway and will be painfully slow, but as we break ground let’s not forget the whole flaming point of what we do when we speak for ourselves – the patient and their story.
With hindsight, would we still join Havas? If there were no financial incentives, would we still be willing to merge with a global network? Are we proud to be HAVAS LYNX? Yes, yes and yes.
As I have previously discussed on this blog, there are numerous benefits to joining a global network. However in isolation, it is not a silver bullet. It requires considerable effort from both parties to fulfil the potential.
Our team have really embraced the opportunity that Havas represents. They’ve worked with talent from across the group, learning with every interaction, growing with new perspectives, ideas & confidence. In addition, their return is always accompanied with praise, gratitude & recognition of their passion, creativity & innovation. They are representing themselves, LYNX, Manchester & London.
Have our clients benefited from the Havas Strategic Toolbox? Yes, but not at first. The tools are exceptional, but also seductive. We became guilty of talking too much, and doing too little. But, you learn. Today we use the tools at the right time, for the right results. We leverage best-in-class strategy with creativity, innovation & delivery to exceed our client expectations.
Have our global campaigns benefitted from the global footprint? Absolutely. One of the networks greatest strengths is their ability to curate local opinions, challenges & opportunities. Havas Health invest significantly in Global & Regional meetings, the result is a genuine willingness to collaborate across international boundaries.
Fiscal pressure & the patent cliffs are driving big Pharma to explore potential cost efficiencies. The hottest concept is decoupling, with investment focused towards insight, ideas, intellect. Havas prioritise thought leadership, and we are supported to do the same. Today we invest heavily in research & development; publishing white papers on our insights, piloting smart technologies & establishing strategic partnerships.
And for me? It was a challenge, it was a far steeper learning curve than I had expected. But that’s brilliant, it’s sparked my interest, maintained my passion, & driven my ambition. Like the rest of the team, I have now got a much bigger pitch to play on.
You’ve not told your team, your clients are blissfully unaware, the world needs to know & so might your family. Business as usual is the priority, but first comes the news.
Before discussing our communication strategy, I think it’s worth noting the confidentiality & respect with which all discussions took place. I was naturally concerned that our discussions would be leaked destabilising clients & our team. With the odd exception all parties conducted themselves impeccably and for that I’m eternally grateful.
Our number one priority was our staff, we told them first. Despite agreeing to join Havas for all the right reasons; exciting briefs, strategic insight & global support, we were naturally apprehensive. Would they be anxious, confused, cynical? Inevitably there were pockets of concern, but the overwhelming response was excitement. The agency saw it as an opportunity, a new challenge, they saw it as a promotion to the big league. A Manchester agency united with a global ambition. 18 months later we would be crowned Havas Agency of the Year.
Clients, an equal mixture of cynicism, ambivalence, excitement & recognition. To those that were cynical we outlined the benefits the merger would bring with the addition of strategic tools, shared expertise & global footprint. With hard work & determination we have allayed those fears. Some were ambivalent, they knew our values & trusted our judgement. Most were excited, they employed us for our strengths, they forgave our weaknesses, and knew that a global partner would address many of them. Our long-term partners, those that have known us since the beginning, were pleased. They understood all the benefits & helped celebrate our next step.
Having emerged from the process of a merger, nothing could be more refreshing than the day job. The process is both intellectually & emotionally draining. Ironically, across both clients & staff were small pockets which expressed their concern that with our announcement would come distractions. They worried we would lose focus on their business and be consumed by a network. This could not be further from the truth, the distraction was over. The extra work done. In many ways the public announcement, signified back to business as usual.
Emergence of a great team? High profile account wins? Excellent financial performance? Awards? 18 months in and HAVAS LYNX London have ticked every box.
The team is spread over two locations. I’m sure management consultants would describe it as on-shoring and outline the benefits in cost efficiencies. Being very smart, they would also talk about even greater savings with alternate locations – quality is not everyone’s priority. Quality is LYNX London’s number one priority. We describe it as an agency, a modern agency, defined by expertise and not geography. Combining the creative & digital pedigree of Manchester, with the strategic and scientific expertise of London. We know the benefit is a best-in-class service.
The teams don’t share an office, rarely take lunch & have entirely different accents, yet they are tight knit & getting closer, creative & getting bolder, innovative & getting smarter. At the heart of their success are the people. From junior developers in Manchester through to account directors in London, the team is blessed with intelligence and drive.
The team that a client sees is important, but so too are the experts behind the scenes. Last year HAVAS LYNX London collected a number of high profiles accounts, through their exceptional service and high quality product. The team front-of-house and the guys in the kitchen aligned to the needs of the client. And fiercely determined too.
But it would be wrong to say it has all been easy, it has not. They have to make every communication count, but in a world when meetings are often bloated & ineffective perhaps this represents another strength. The creative leads are not just across the office, but equally they have few disruptions and an atypical opportunity to focus. Cultures are more difficult to align, but more rewarding when they do. Maybe it is harder, evidence would suggest it’s certainly worth it.
But their greatest achievement? Every member of the team contributing to a culture of success. From the top to the bottom, from the Manchester-based studio to the account team of London, from ping-pong to pitches, they want to win every time (and so far do).
We joined the Havas network on the 31st May 2012. On the 22nd of January 2014 we were named Havas Agency of the year. This accolade is our single greatest award. Representing healthcare in a consumer world, competing with the likes of the brilliant BETC, Cake and One Green Bean, we have proven that pharmaceutical marketing can be just as exciting, just as creative and just as innovative as the B2C world. In fact, we have demonstrated that it can be better.
Healthcare can often be seen as the ugly duckling of advertisement; stifling creativity in favour of science. I would argue that it simply raises the bar of the creative expertise required to succeed within the sector. I am not diminishing the talent required to make Aldi exciting, but it requires a different expertise, determination and creative confidence to succeed in healthcare communications.
There is a belief in media and communications that global networks buy all of the best talent and break them. There are a number of cases and stories within the industry of once amazing agencies losing their sparkle, independence and passion. This fear was echoed by a number of our clients when we announced our deal with Havas. Had our deal been purely based on financials we would have chosen a different partner. Had we not wanted to evolve the agency, and been happy to rest on our laurels, we would not have found a partner at all. As a senior team, we recognised the need to develop our offering, enhancing our global presence and bolstering our strategic offering, to complement our natural creativity and innovation. This award is a testament to Havas: making us stronger, not weaker; our service more agile, less bloated; our campaigns smarter, less fanciful.
It would be wrong to say that 2013 was easy. It was not. It was incredibly hard. In the first 6 months we had a number of tough projects, internal challenges and inevitable growing pains. The fact we turned things around and closed 2013 so strongly demonstrates the strength of character that runs from the bottom to the top of our agency, from strategy to delivery, from reception to board. It also fills us all with real confidence for 2014, as we look to build upon robust client partnerships, a responsive structure and exceptional people.
What next? HAVAS LYNX will continue to demonstrate that creativity and innovation in healthcare communications is defined by passion and ideas, not legislation and fear.
25,302 pounds in just one year, 500 pounds per week for 52 weeks, or 150 pounds per person – however you decide to analyse the efforts and achievements of the HAVAS LYNX#High5ives team this year, it is a tremendous effort. But CSR doesn’t just include charitable donations & raising money, they went much, much further.
It was just over twelve months ago when Tim Woodcock, General Manager LYNX London, developed a penchant for 30 mile runs. Further investigation uncovered his proposed participation in Marathon des Sables: The Toughest Footrace on Earth. It was a phenomenal effort; equally phenomenal was the support that Tim would receive from the agency. The endeavour also saw Nick Greenwood create the #High5ives brand, which became a catalyst for our CSR movement. In the age of damage, it perfectly illustrates the impact of a genuine brand, with values, behaviour, and personality entirely aligned.
50 pints of blood were donated by members of HAVAS LYNX. Each donation had the ability to save 3 lives. The initiative was led by Julie Southam, who delivered an exceptional service to her clients, whilst simultaneously organising critical help for 141 strangers. As an agency, we believe that who cares wins and in helpful change. Our campaigns are centred on patient wellbeing, so too are many of our personal activities.
Leanne Ledger leads our activities in higher education; she also helped to educate the wider community on the 1.4 billion people that live in extreme poverty. Living on just £1 per day for a week, Leanne raised money & awareness through https://www.livebelowtheline.com. Our social reach is 142,750 in 2013.
In keeping with the #High5ives theme and as we concluded 2013, the team decided on local charities over Christmas cards. Throughout December and into January, they are collecting donations for Barnabus, Wood Street Mission and Whitechapel Mission. Great charities that are in even greater demand over the holiday season. It’s a fitting end to a great first year for High5ives. Led by Claire Knapp & Tom Wordley, and supported by Claire Elliot, I have little doubt that this is just the beginning.
As CEO, their energy & achievements fill me with immense pride, equally their passion & expertise fill me with great confidence for the future.