DDB Remedy's John Bertolini on breaking 'misconceptions' and attracting talent to health marketing

Paige Murphy
By Paige Murphy | 2 June 2021

Healthcare and pharmaceutical marketing hasn’t always been perceived as the most creative area of adland to work in.

At DDB Remedy, managing director John Bertolini wants to break what he believes is a “misconception” about the industry.

Bertolini tells AdNews the industry offers incredible opportunities to work on some of the “most creative” accounts in the country.

“Creative opportunities, for us, tend to present themselves in providing highly engaging educational activity including gamification as well as by driving lasting change through disease awareness campaigns,” Bertolini tells AdNews.

“In addition, there are now more mainstream brands than ever seeking to gain a foothold in the health arena to engage the full spectrum of the healthcare audience from professionals through to health consumers.

“There is also a significant craft element to the work that we create, and often the design ‘finish’ adds another area of creativity to explore.

“Talented designers tend to really be able to flex their skills to bring ideas to life.”

DDB Remedy is the healthcare and pharma marketing agency which sits within the DDB Group.

The agency has created work for a number of healthcare clients including the Heart Foundation, the Australian Digital Health Agency, Uniting and Cochlear.

Clients tend to come to Remedy for its brand and product launch expertise, but Bertolini says they also benefit from long-standing relationships where they can help plan the lifecycle of brands.

He believes being a part of the broader DDB Group gives the agency a platform to offer clients a wider and more integrated range of capabilities compared to its more traditional healthcare agency competitors.

“Our sweet spot is really approaching brands from a truly integrated perspective,” he says.

“Remedy’s offering spans both medical education and advertising, underpinning by a strong digital backbone.

“We operate at the intersection of the modern, changing, technological world and the unchanging need for wellness.

“This means that we’re able to speak to the emotional human needs that drive us first and foremost before then validating the emotional response through rational proof.”

While the industry has undergone a major evolution, particularly over the last year as the need for healthcare marketing has skyrocketed during the pandemic, Bertolini sees attracting talent still as a critical challenge.

“The fact that a lot of healthcare work is not visible to the general public means that many potential recruits are not aware of the extraordinary creative opportunities our sector presents,” he says.

As the industry and its work continues to become more visible though, this is sure to change.

Bertolini says the work won’t be about prescription products but more on the companies making medical breakthroughs, as well as meeting consumer needs through the use of new technology.

“Science and research have been recognised as heroes, and there are many stories to tell that will build stronger connections to our audiences,” he says.

“Digital transformation has already been established, and technology is now well and truly intertwined with everyday health.

“We’re expecting that much more focus will be given to understanding and meeting customer needs.

“While this has been expedited by the pandemic, technology will not be adopted for technology’s sake but rather, to ensure that patients and consumers benefit from its effective use.”

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