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Evidence-based creativity is all important in health, says Matt Eastwood

Eastwood, Global Chief Creative Officer, McCann Health, speaks about his deliberate and calculated approach towards creativity at McCann Health, importance of evidence in health and his India plans

Matt Eastwood, Global Chief Creative Officer, McCann Health, believes that it’s really the evidence-based creativity that is important in health. “You are talking about people’s well-being, you have to make sure it’s accurate and authentic,” he said in a tête-à-tête with BestMediaInfo.com.

“It’s amazing how creative scientists are. You think about breakthroughs in science, and obviously there are huge creative leaps that are made to get to those solutions,” he added.

Eastwood said he is being very deliberate about the plan to expand McCann Health’s creativity, setting targets for every office or auditing the creatives around the world, making sure they get the best people. “So, it’s a very deliberate and calculated approach,” he emphasised.

Part of the reason why Eastwood was interested in the health space is that he thinks that it is such a big growth area. “So many brands are moving into health and wellness, which perhaps haven’t been in that space before. It’s expanding rapidly. Brands that you wouldn’t even consider necessarily health brands are approaching that,” he pointed out.

Through the Global Scientific Council, McCann has a seat on the UN Security Council. It is the only advertising agency on that council that advises the United Nations on global health issues. “I feel very humbled to be a part of a company that has such a reputation, advising global leaders on global health issues,” said Eastwood.

Excerpts:

You have done health and wellness work, which was well-recognised and lauded such as the 'Drinkable Book' for Water is Life at DDB, 'The Fin' and even the breastfeeding campaign of Abbott in Latin America while at JWT. When can we see you create such work for McCann Health clients?

I mean, it’s definitely beginning already. And part of the reason why I joined McCann Health is that we’ve already done so much famous work, particularly in India, with the Immunity Charm.

This is a company that’s already recognising the value of creativity in terms of health marketing. But I’ve already started working on different projects around the world; there are a few things that I’m involved with already that will come out in the next couple of months.

I’m working on a project in India. We are putting something out of New York which is very smart. We are doing something in the States for trying to discourage teenagers from vaping. So, I’m working on global projects in different places.

How smooth or rough has the transition from JWT to McCann Health been?

Totally smooth. It has not been anything unusual. I’ve been here three months now. As it always is, when you start a new job, you got to deal with new people. This is my first visit to India to meet the team from McCann Health. I spent a couple of days in Mumbai with the team.

And I’m doing this with most of the big centres for us – Tokyo, Shanghai, Singapore, London, New York and we have two agencies in New Jersey as well. It’s great, and I’m just getting up to speed with our clients, meeting our clients.

There’s a lot to do, but you can’t just get started. It’s good fun.

You created a record for JWT by getting them to win 80 Cannes Lions in 2016. What made such a thing happen?

I think it’s a very calculated approach towards institutional creativity. One thing I’ve always done is I’m very much about making a plan and taking action against that plan.

The thing that I’m doing with McCann Health is that I’m being very deliberate about the plan to expand our creativity, setting targets for every office or auditing the creatives around the world, making sure that we got the best people, etc. So, it’s a very deliberate and calculated approach.

You know, it takes a while to get to where you want to get to.  But it’s not one thing that makes the difference, there are 10 things or more that you need to do. I’m just starting on that journey now with McCann Health.

What kind of growth are you expecting in the health communications sector in India and globally?

Part of the reason why I was interested in the health space is that I think that it is such a big growth area. And so many brands are moving into health and wellness, which perhaps haven’t been in that space before. It’s expanding rapidly.

I read an article a few months ago about Mercedes Benz. And their thought is that we should perhaps think about the overall wellness of the driver in the space and what can we do as a car company to influence wellness and health. It’s interesting when you think that they have control over the cabin, sound, lighting, music and smell. So it’s interesting if you think of someone like Mercedes Benz, which is not a health company, but has started to move in the health space.

So, I think it’s expanding as many people are moving to this new space.

You have said that the reason why Rob Reilly (Creative Chairman of McCann World Group) spoke to you about your role was that he saw an opportunity to bring McCann Health and McCann World Group closer together. How do you intend to materialise that?

Because I’ve known Rob a long time, we are very comfortable working with each other and it’s about maximising the McCann World Group resources across the clients that we have in McCann Health and vice-versa.

So, we help giving them access to McCann Health resources around the world on behalf of their clients. There are a bunch of clients that cross over that we can do more for each other and share resources. Not just McCann, the advertising agency, but all of the McCann World Group companies – MRM, Weber Shandwick, etc.

I’m making sure that we access all of those. So, that’s a big thing for me. We don’t have to do this all on our own, we have amazing specialists that we can bring from every field and that’s what Rob and I are working on together.

Apart from being health and wellness-oriented, how does the creative offering of McCann Health differ from its creative counterpart, McCann?

The interesting thing to me and what I’ve discovered very quickly is that the rigour behind the work that we do is incredible. So, last year, McCann Health formed something called the Global Scientific Council, which is a 450 PhDs, doctors, etc. within McCann Health to act, advise us and specialise on health issues.

So, it’s kind of amazing that sometimes I find myself sitting in a meeting with two doctors right there and that is so unique. I have never worked with a doctor on staff in any agency, though I have been working on health issues before. So there is a level of rigour, science and evidence behind the work that we are doing. It is absolutely kind of unique.

Through the Global Scientific Council, McCann has a seat on the UN Security Council. It is the only advertising agency on that council that advises the United Nations on global health issues. I feel very humbled to be a part of a company that has such a reputation, advising global leaders on global health issues.

How does the creative purview fit into the science arena?

It’s amazing how creative scientists are. You think about breakthroughs in science, and obviously there are huge creative leaps that are made to get to those solutions.

So, as an example, the global medical director for McCann Health is a man named Daniel (Dan) Carucci. He is an amazing man who spent the beginning of his career, maybe 20 years even, working for the United States Navy in terms of focusing on global health issues. He was one of the first people who were involved in mapping the genome that led to the vaccine for malaria. And this is the guy who works for our company.

So I think science is an incredibly important part, and what we do is that we take that evidence and add a creative spin to it. The Immunity Charm is a very good example of that and Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN) was involved in its creation.

So, it’s really the evidence-based creativity that is important in health. You are talking about people’s well-being; you have to make sure it’s accurate and authentic.

Are any of your global clients handled by McCann Health in India as well?

Yes, many of them. GSK, Reckitt Benckiser, Abbott and a lot more.

Info@BestMediaInfo.com

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