We started by asking our clients how they would like us to better support them. We could have taken a traditional agency route, focusing primarily on the quality of our creative output, but what was clear from these conversations is how client expectations of their agency partners have changed. The focus is much more on how an agency can navigate an increasingly complex scientific landscape and bring the science behind their drug innovations to life.
The ways in which diseases are being diagnosed, treated, cured and eliminated have undergone a profound shift in the past decade. The pace of change in medical science is accelerating and the pharmaceutical industry’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic has seen the speeding-up of development cycles, the use of faster regulatory processes and a culture of disruptive innovation. This new reality presents exciting challenges for all of us in healthcare communication. It encourages us to find new ways to explain and articulate the ideas behind these ever-more complex treatments and approaches – ways that are powerful and memorable, but not over-simplistic.
Simplicity is over-rated. Our understanding of complex drugs is not enhanced through over-simplification – their sheer complexity is what makes them different. They have been discovered and tested by teams of brilliant scientists, none of whom would describe the outcome of their work as ‘simple’. There are obvious parallels from within the design world. Don Norman, described by Business Week as ‘one of the world’s most influential designers’ and author of Living with Complexity, makes the very important distinction between things that are complex and those that are complicated, suggesting that: “We must distinguish complexity from confusion, perplexity and unintelligibility. The goal is complexity with order, lucidity and understanding.” For us this means the content we create must be made compelling, even fascinating for each audience whilst preserving accuracy and avoiding trivialisation of the original. This is the ambition of our new agency proposition Science brought to life.
The double meaning behind the agency proposition is important as it defines the medical science within the context of real-world situations. It encourages us to explain and champion the science through the actual experiences of patients, which as we all know, is one of the most powerful and compelling forms of communication. Often this is about turning the dry data into stories that connect, or finding real-world metaphors that help to make sense of new concepts. This is how we can make sense of complexity. This is how we bring science to life.