Mindfulness: An Age-Old Concept in a Bright, Shiny New World

yoga officeIf you asked others to define mindfulness, you’d likely hear a variety of responses, the most common of which might be relating the term to a Buddhist concept. Mindfulness indeed originated thousands of years ago, and for those who conceptualize it this way, a quote from the well-known author Thich Nhat Hanh illustrates the point well. He said, “Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.” Too esoteric? This is far from the only interpretation of the word.

A more practical and relevant definition for business is simply: awareness. We all know full well the challenges in today’s environment, particularly within the rapidly evolving healthcare space. The digital age isn’t coming, it’s here, but all of its obstacles and opportunities are still being pulsed out over time as we answer some questions and then inevitably raise more. As if our own world isn’t changing quickly enough, that of our clients is right there beside it, equaling if not outpacing the transformation we’re experiencing. One of the keys to all of this—to recognizing the hurdles and also to overcoming them—is mindfulness (yes, that 2,000+ year old practice).

Mindfulness facilitates a more complete view of what’s around us. It compels us to consider our immediate and long-term challenges, and the resources we have available to address them. But it also encourages us to put ourselves in the shoes of our clients, to become more connected to (in other words, aware of) their work climate, and that always makes for better, more creative and insightful work.

But it is more than just awareness. Going back to the more obscure definitions, it’s about being supremely present, the result of which is the ability to recognize beauty and connectedness in the world. The more of that we see, the more impassioned we become and the more driven we are to contribute to it—through our work, but also through our hobbies, our families and our friends.

So let’s make a pact to be more mindful and to reap the rewards, personally and professionally. Become more familiar with and aware of your working environment and that of your clients, work after hours at home and even monitor those devices as needed, and you will be a better, more valuable professional for it. But when the job is done, continue to practice that mindfulness by being fully present and invested in whatever you’re doing after work. It helps us all, even those who love every waking second of their job, to unplug and recharge. There are few things that clients love—and need, especially in today’s healthcare landscape—more than an eager and fresh perspective ready to confront their most formidable challenges.

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The Cycle of DTC

blueskyThe history of DTC advertising (and by that I mean all consumer/patient outreach, not just TV), has seen a number of highs and lows over the years.

When campaigns first launched in the late ’90s and early 2000s, we watched as pharma marketers and their agencies worked to create brands out of medicines that, quite frankly, most users didn’t really want to have a relationship with.

During that time, we watched as Claritin and later Clarinex integrated graphics and special effects into their messages; we were introduced to critters including the Zoloft blob and Digger; we applauded the uniqueness of Vytorin’s “food & family” representation of the 2 sources of cholesterol. The Lunesta moth was heralded as iconic, while some of us scratched our heads over the story of Abe & the beaver as told by Rozerem.

The list goes on and on…. The point being, these were campaigns that sparked a reaction (good and bad), told a story, leveraged an insight, and by most accounts, helped our clients successfully market their drugs.

By the late 2000s, many of us noticed a perceptible shift in pharmaceutical campaigns. Some of this was coincident with a number of significant safety issues that prompted some of the major advertisers to pull back, and as more and more companies sought to “preclear” their ads through DDMAC and then OPDP, the feedback, in many cases in my experience, resulted in campaigns that while still engaging on some levels appeared to stop just short of eliciting any kind of emotion or reaction (again, good or bad). Our work still resulted in positive ROIs, it still won awards, but it just wasn’t the type of work that had people talking.

I’m happy to say that lately, the tide seems to be turning. Recent advertising for Crestor reinforces a positive brand experience by literally depicting a patient as a fan. A fairly light-hearted approach that still seems appropriate and responsible, still depicts the risks and benefits in a balanced manner, but one that evokes an emotional reaction, and presumably for Crestor users present and future, a connection with the brand. And campaigns like Novartis’ Gilenya illustrate how a brand can connect with patients—literally and figuratively.

Another positive outcome of this shift back to more emotive and insightful DTC appears to be a resurgence of more disease education. These campaigns are not only getting people to the doctor for appropriate medical advice and care, they are inspiring conversations and connections. Gilead’s “Full Frontal” campaign is provocative and buzz-worthy on the basis of its name alone…but the drama of the idea coupled with the real patient stories just increases the emotional impact and call to action.

So the next time a DTC ad turns up on your TV or Facebook feed…don’t skip it…you might be pleasantly surprised that DTC is back!

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How Flexible Are You?

1581156If you work in the creative department in today’s healthcare communications world, you had better be very flexible. Flexible in both mind and spirit.

Gone are the days of working on one piece of business for several years and having a chance to build a strong client relationship that endures for years to come. Welcome to the new world of flexible creativity. Where you have minimal hours in a year to build a brand while trying to build that long-lasting client relationship.

Welcome to the place where you need to shift gears on a week-to-week basis, because many brands nowadays aren’t able to support a fulltime creative person.

Welcome to change. The structure of today’s client brand teams and the type of work we do are very streamlined, with a strong focus on smart, innovative, efficient thinking and execution.

So we must be able to adapt quickly and efficiently to deliver the best work in this new environment. And in many cases we must work across multiple brands with no true base brand to secure us. You might be working in oncology one week, on an OTC the next, or both at the same time.

You need to have a flexible mindset to be able to do this, and the experience in multiple therapeutic categories to back it up.

While it may come across as a head-spinning, anxiety-riddled job, there is a bright side to this. In yesterday’s world many a creative person might have had 3 brands they worked on over the course of their career; they had numerous versions of revised detail aids, ads, iPads or e-details, and their portfolios showed a lack of diversity.

This current flexible creative model allows creatives to explore uncharted territory, learn new categories—at a sometimes rapid rate—but they are gaining a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience across multiple therapeutic areas.

Think of how impressive that will look in your bio and across your portfolio. Think of how exciting it will be to come in and have the opportunity to learn an entirely new space. This is the world today’s creatives live in, and we must embrace it and take advantage of its many positive attributes.

I have personally witnessed many creatives shift gears, enter into uncharted territory, and come out shining, later acknowledging how much they enjoyed the experience and opportunity to work with new faces who have a wealth of experience in these new areas.

So make sure to stretch your body and mind prior to beginning this new activity, because if you are mentally prepared you will truly shine.

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What Famous Author Honed His Skills as an Ogilvy Copywriter?

2783008If you guessed Salman Rushdie, you’re right. The great novelist started his writing career as a copywriter at the London agency started by the great copywriter David Ogilvy, Joe Bunting posted at Copyblogger.

While his books have captivated the literary world, his advertising credits at Ogilvy & Mather are not too shabby either. Aero is still using his tagline—“Irresistibubble”—for its aerated chocolate bar. Rushdie also came up with “Naughty..but Nice” for Fresh Cream Cakes and a clever line for the Daily Mirror, “Look into the Mirror tomorrow—you’ll like what you see.”

When he wasn’t writing advertisements, Rushdie spent his off hours writing novels. His first book, Grimus, was published during his seven-year stint at Ogilvy & Mather. His second novel, the 1981 award-winning Midnight’s Children, started Rushdie on his path to international fame.

Here’s what Rushdie learned about writing during his copywriting career:

  • Be disciplined. “I write like a job. I sit down in the morning and I do it. And I don’t miss deadlines.”
  • Spend time writing headlines. For his breakthrough novel, Rushdie spent hours typing “Children of Midnight” and “Midnight’s Children” over and over before choosing the latter.
  • Be concise. “One of the great things about advertising is…you have to try to make a very big statement in very few words or very few images and you haven’t much time. All of this is, I feel, very useful,” Rushdie said at the 2008 IAPI Advertising Effectiveness Award ceremony.
  • Rejection is part of writing; use it as motivation. “One must find themselves an editor or, failing that, a group of people who will tell you the truth about your writing, and are not afraid to say, ‘This isn’t good enough.’ … Unless someone can tell you that what you’re writing is no good, then you won’t know how to push it to a point when it can start being good.”

Rushdie credits the habits he formed as an Ogilvy & Mather copywriter to his continued success as a novelist. “I do feel that a lot of the professional craft of writing is something I learnt from those years in advertising, and I will always be grateful for it.”

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Offices Aren’t Just For Working

thumbnailOCHWW colleagues—I think you all would agree that we face a lot of challenges at work: client requests and tight timelines, internal office debates, and the food in the cafeteria. Well, it’s not exactly Dean and DeLuca. Plus, as wonderful as it would be to leave work (physically and mentally) every day at 5:00, that isn’t always the case. We spend most of our waking hours within our cubicles, conference rooms, or offices with coworkers. That’s why I think it’s important to have our workplace be somewhere we’re proud of—and somewhere we look forward to going to.

I’ve personally been a big fan of Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide since 2009, when I was a  Communications and PR intern in our New Jersey office. That love grew when I spent two years in the Payer group before deciding to leave my super cool roommates (aka Mom and Dad) and start working for our NY office.

Those of you who work in the NY office, or have had the pleasure of visiting, know that it’s a completely different atmosphere from NJ. Here’s one small example: our cube walls are super low (read: nonexistent) which means you’re basically in everyone’s business all the time. (I wonder how many times a day I apologize to my poor neighbors for being loud and/or obnoxious….) Because of this open floor plan, it’s easy to get to know people—really well. I know when my coworkers are busy, frustrated, upset, or happy—and usually their moods affect mine. That’s one of the reasons I was concerned for the state of our employees’ mental health when the head of our NY morale committee was leaving Ogilvy. What was going to happen to our Friday festivities!? I leapt at the chance to work with the Mod Squad to ensure our morale would remain high.

It’s been a great joy for us to bring back “beer cart Fridays,” while also trying to start new fun events. We had a fantastic time with our Halloween Decorating contest, where employees could be found hanging cobwebs from the ceiling, taking grotesque self portraits, and watching the cool feature film developed by the creative department! This Christmas we had another decorating contest, where each team was given one box of items including playing cards, twine, and toilet paper, with which to decorate their rows. We had fantastic results, from “scratch-n-sniff” snowman noses out of mac-n-cheese to a tinfoil skating rink. Although brutally competitive, these two events have been some of the most fun weeks I’ve had in the office. My mind was blown away by everyone’s creativity, commitment, and fun spirit.

It’s so important for us to have fun together whenever possible—that’s why the Mod Squad dedicates their time to these events. Plus, advertising isn’t just about the work we are doing for our clients. It’s about what we do for ourselves. Don’t we want to brand ourselves as a company who enjoys spending time with each other, whether it’s working in a conference room, pushing a beer cart, or hanging toilet paper from the ceiling?

So, when making your resolutions for 2014, I ask that one of your resolutions be to help make our offices even more fun places to work! I’m happy to hear any and all ideas you may have. I promise you won’t regret it.

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Flexing Our Creative Muscles

flexing our muscles thumbnailIt takes lots of hard work and dedication to achieve your goals for a healthier lifestyle. It focuses on nutrition, physical activity and resiliency, and is individualized to your specific needs. Running the Ogilvy CommonHealth Imaging department is comparable to this in many ways, as I apply the same approach in servicing all Art and Creative Directors. Expectations are high, utilizing our confidence, capabilities and talent to deliver.

It Starts With Healthy Living
Just as in planning my daily and weekly workout routine, the Imaging team prepares by being mentally and physically fresh. It’s important to keep up with the latest technology and current software and hardware upgrades. Every day is a learning experience, especially in the CGI environment.
Wellness in the Imaging Department
The team keeps in top shape by utilizing powerful 3D graphics and software. This has allowed us to take our imaging capabilities to the highest levels conceptually and to produce final printed or digital art.
Increased Strength and Endurance
Creating and conceptualizing art for new brands and new business pitches requires an extreme amount of strength and endurance. We take creative teams’ and individuals’ ideas to a whole new level, allowing them to achieve their visions and ideas, and bringing them alive through the Imaging team’s strength, expertise and resources.
Preparation and Mental Toughness
It takes extreme preparation and execution from our digital artists to create that perfect and unique piece of art. Understanding the “why” is more important than the “how.” In order to create a realistic 3D image, it requires an understanding of why an object looks a certain way in the real world or in specific environments.
Connect With Us
We have evolved traditional retouching into a combination of digital imaging, 3D modeling, animation and motion graphics, to create dynamic, compelling still and motion images. Our strength is in our passion to move ahead and be the best in our industry. Other agencies can’t keep up with the healthy lifestyle of the Ogilvy CommonHealth Imaging team and that’s why we’re flexing our creative muscle.

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Unleash Your Passions

thumbnailAs the year comes to another busy end we find ourselves working long hours to ensure we meet the needs of our clients, but look forward to the hope and promise of a new year. The New Year is the time to reflect on the changes we want to make and resolve to follow through on those changes. As we think about those resolutions, let’s take a moment to reflect on the corporate culture of Ogilvy & Mather as laid down by David Ogilvy.

“Some of our people spend their entire working lives in Ogilvy & Mather. We try to make it a stimulating and happy experience. We put this first, believing that superior service to our clients depends on the high morale of our men and women.”

Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide is an organization filled with hardworking, creative and smart individuals. In fact, we often find ourselves defined by what our job roles are; account managers, copywriters, art directors, finance directors, medical directors, and more. But we are so much more than a job description. Underneath it all, we are all individuals with personal goals, passions, with a desire to better ourselves and the world around us. We are all poised for greatness. This greatness lies within us—deep within, we are painters, poets, caregivers, entrepreneurs, mentors, performers, advocates, athletes, and so much more.

Often the demands of our day job and life in general get in the way of achieving our personal goals, or passion projects, as I like to call them. But, especially in a creative business like advertising, we have to ensure that the pressures of the daily grind are not counterproductive to our creative spirit, the lifeline of our work. As such, we really need to make the time to pursue our passion projects. Our personal passion projects can provide a much-needed creative outlet and an escape from the demands of the day. Ultimately, making the time for our side projects will allow us to unwind, gather perspective and experience, and center ourselves.

But aside from the personal satisfaction that can be gained, passion projects loop back into work life, fueling professional inspiration. It is no secret that high performance and job satisfaction are tightly linked with the need to gain control of our personal and professional lives, to learn and create new things, and to be better at what we do. Driven by personal fulfillment, those who pursue passion projects are highly engaged and will work more efficiently and effectively.

So as we reflect back on the past year and resolve to make changes for 2014, let’s think about those side projects we are passionate about. It’s time to let those passion projects brewing beneath the surface grow into valuable opportunities both personally and professionally. If you give them a chance, you’ll get the pleasure of working with highly motivated people who are happy at their jobs. In the new year, I resolve to pursue my hobby of painting more vigorously… What will you do? Consider acting on your passion project as part of your New Year’s resolution.

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The Global Awards Ceremony

blog thumbnailAs you enter this welcoming, creative environment, you are immediately humbled by the amazing creative work on display. The best work from around the world. The creative directors from many of the world’s top agencies are in attendance. It is a true creative event in every sense of the word.

The work is brilliant, and it is judged by only creative eyes. The judging takes place at 3 locations: Sydney, London and New York. And while you are here mingling with creative royalty, there is this great sense of community, as only creatives can experience. It is a chance for us to share stories, discuss the work, and enjoy each other’s company without the daily politics we are so used to dealing with.

This show is a very special one. They do it right, by getting a true global perspective on the work and then putting that judging through even more scrutiny at the regional level. Once it gets past the regional level, only the very best moves into the executive judging in New York. This is where the Global finalists and Grand winners are determined.

The debates over which work deserves to be considered the best are fun and filled with an intense passion. What is special is that we are fighting for someone else’s work to be recognized as the best. No other show does that.

And after we are done with the marathon of judging, we all go out and get to know more about each other, share our stories, and build friendships. Yes, we are rivals during the day, but during this prestigious event we are part of a special group that has a tremendous amount of respect for each other.

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5 Outrageous Claims from Pharmaceutical Advertising

Nancy thumbnailDoes the public actually believe the pharmaceutical ads they see on TV? Will a doctor change a treatment plan based on a new popular drug advertised on TV that everyone is talking about?

According to a 2004 FDA survey, the answer is yes. Doctors feel pressure from their patients to prescribe a brand name drug seen advertised. The survey also reported that more than 75% of the responses from 500 doctors indicated that their patients thought that the drug prescribed worked better than it did because of the ads they saw.

The fact is that more than 50 million people each year ask their doctors about new drugs they see advertised. In general, advertising can increase demand by at least 10 percent and the price by 5%. So it is no surprise that spending on pharmaceutical advertising in the United States has spiked dramatically: from $150 million in 1993 to $4.24 billion in 2005.

This impact on the public has always worried the FDA, formed in 1927, to protect the public from the outrageous claims made by the makers of the next miracle drug.

Consider some of these claims that may have prompted government regulation:

  • 1850: Throw aside all prejudice and buy and use the best pills ever offered to the public. They will always do good when a cathartic is required. And in no case will they do you harm.
  • 1909: Dr. B. of the Pasteur Institute, Paris, France inoculated a rabbit with human dandruff germs, and “in between five and six weeks,” says the official report of the Pasteur Institute “the rabbit was completely denuded, in fact it had become entirely bald. This experiment proves the dandruff is a contagious disease due to the presence of a microbic growth in the sebaceous glands of the scalp.
  • 1916: Those women who find that the hips are getting too large should see how the white cross electric vibrator reduces them. Lameness of any sort is caused by obstruction or imperfect circulation and the best way to treat it is to force blood through the sore muscle.

Compare these to some ads after regulation:

  • 1946: Ben Gay actually contains up to 2 ½ times more methylsalicylate and menthol—those famous pain-relieving agents known to every doctor—than five other widely offered rub-ins
  • 1976: Cool the Fever. Bufferin’s pain reliever not only starts going to those aches and pains twice as fast as plain aspirin, it also reduces the fever as effectively as any plain aspirin tablet.


Take a look at these ads. Do you know what is missing? There are no adverse effects mentioned at all! It wasn’t until 1985 that the FDA required drug advertisers list adverse reactions. Today, without including adverse reactions, an ad may end up an FDA “bad ad” or on Forbe’s worst ad-of-the-year list. See http://www.forbes.com/2010/02/02/drug-advertising-lipitor-lifestyle-health-pharmaceuticals-safety_slide.html

What do you think? Is more information, science, and data better? Or is the reality, as John Lennon once said, “The more I see, the less I know for sure.” Have pharmaceutical claims changed so much over the years? What’s so different about the unregulated claim made in 1917: I now hear clearly. You, too, can hear! And the Latisse regulated claim in 2010: Not enough lashes? Grow them! Longer, fuller, darker.

Whether you think regulation of pharmaceutical ads is government control or protection of the public from outrageous claims made by a modern-day medicine act, “the truth is rarely pure and never simple.” (Oscar Wilde)

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Intro to Ogilvy: An Intern’s Adventure

cole thumbnailSummer: Preparing for the Journey

June rolls around and it is in your nature to assume the road ahead will be full of the outdoors, fun destinations, social gatherings with friends, and personal productivity to accomplish those important goals that seem to be neglected throughout the school year—such as finishing three seasons of Game of Thrones in one week. It is the summer. It is time to kick back, relax, and enjoy your well-earned break. But you’re going into your last year of college now, and the reality is that your prior expectation of what June, and summer, usually entails, has changed. And all for the better.

I’d like to share the adventure, mystery, and beginning of a journey. This journey surely will not be the summer I’ve grown comfortable with, but most definitely will become the summer that any eager college student could hope for. This will be a journey not filled with frequent trips down the Garden State Parkway to the beach, but instead frequent trips down 287 and 80 to Morris Corporate Centers. A journey where trips to “The Pool” and going out to “Sushi” now means I have a meeting scheduled, and not a watery oasis or a fine dinner ahead of me. A journey no longer filled with intently researching which new concerts are coming up, but instead intently researching which new birth control products have launched new banner ads on WebMD. Yup, this summer will be different. But it’s a welcome change, because we didn’t spend the last two semesters working to earn a break; we spent the last two semesters working to earn an internship.

This two-part series will be the truth of my experience of an Uncommon Internship here at OCH.

Week One: The Journey Begins

As we drove back toward the Morris Corporate Centers, orientation had finished. Time to meet our mentors. We all stood around in the lobby quietly, and one by one our mentors would enter the lobby, call out a name, and just as all of us interns had been brought together, we were pulled right back apart. I felt like we were in a sports draft and the order in which we were called had some odd correlation to the amount of interest our mentor had in having us for the summer. Because I was probably the only intern crazy enough to worry about such things, naturally I was called last.

Boy, was I wrong. My mentor came up and greeted me and somehow managed to gather back my excitement, reassure me that my summer was in good hands, and convey that what help we could provide was greatly welcomed and needed. So sparing you the details about my thoughts surrounding having my own cubicle, a work phone with my name already programmed into it, and all the other simple touches that excite an intern, I’ll continue on with a valuable lesson I learned that day.

Lesson 1: Taking Marketing Classes Doesn’t Mean You Know Marketing

As I sat down and read my first DO Brief, my knowledge of marketing seemed to continuously shrink. It wasn’t that I couldn’t understand the brief in front of me, it was that I couldn’t comprehend how it got in front of me. How many minds and hands have touched this—how many hours? In looking up and seeing a product sample on my desk, the enigma grew to include how that very same brief led to the creation of that product—its message, its flavor, and its brand. It is not that I did not learn anything in my marketing classes—in fact, I would like to think I paid attention. The missing knowledge most certainly could be best explained by the fact that I was taking Intro to Marketing, and not Intro to Ogilvy. My class didn’t explain how innovation truly seemed to make every marketing entity unique. It is the “innovate or die” mentality that probably pressures each marketing firm to be unique, and is most likely the reason that there are some intangibles about marketing that no class can teach you. Only experience can show you. It is Fusion, it is many meetings in oddly named rooms (like The Pool and Sushi), and in general it is effective communication and interconnectivity in a community with a common goal in mind. It’s the uncommon way in which OCHWW creatively executes service and markets for “The Life of the Brand.”

It was once said, “Marketing isn’t magic. There is a science to it.” I may have learned a little bit of the science behind marketing through my lecture halls and textbooks; I do not deny it exists. However, I’m going to have to disagree with the preceding quote and state that the magic behind marketing also exists, and it can sometimes only be viewed through the lens of a community member—an employee, or even an intern.

In the next part of this series, I’ll share more lessons I have learned as this journey continues.

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