Cannes, France — Ryan Quigley, Vice President, Immunology, Global Marketing, and Bruce Henderson, Chief Creative Officer at Jack Morton Worldwide, took the stage at Cannes to talk about ways to build brands through brand experience. Or said another way, to talk about how brands can be a superhero.

Henderson said, “Superheroes are modern mythological characters and like classical mythological characters they serve to inspire us on our own journeys.” They share many characteristics with healthcare brands. For example, superheroes have:

  • Extraordinary powers. Like the ones healthcare brands use to make us better and live longer.
  • Courage. And, what’s more courageous than pursuing answers to riddles in the human body
  • A strong moral code. Which healthcare also shares at its core.

The pair talked about specific ways that brands can create these super hero experiences as brands:

  • Be human
  • Be useful
  • Invite participation
  • Build community

Don’t Turn Your Back On It

What if it felt you had an elephant sitting on your back every day of the week? That was a question eventually asked by Abbvie’s Don’t Turn Your Back On Itcampaign, but it was originally asked by hundreds of people living with chronic back pain.

Abbie used social listening to hear the experiences of 120,000 patients across Europe. Patients found it very difficult to describe back pain – despite how common it is. But one of the commonalities they heard was the intensity: it felt like an elephant sitting on your back.

The Don’t Turn Your Back On It program brings useful education to back pain suffers and shows them how connect with the help they need. It’s now been rolled out across 28 markets where millions of people interact with the content. The results show that roughly 30% of users have engaged with key content and 1:10 have actively sought help from a physician .

Health Beacon

Henderson asked, “What if medical waste could be converted into a powerful tool to improve patient outcomes?”

Most patients who self inject throw away syringes and injectors every day. Abbvie’s HealthBeacon gives them a better place to put them.

It’s a simple container that lets patients drop auto injectors in after each use. It uses a camera to track the time that the injection was taken and transfers that information back to the healthcare system.

That feedback loop was critical for Abbvie because their drug is only administered every two weeks and compliance within the optimum window of within 24 hours of that 2-week mark had very low compliance. The Beacon bumped optimum compliance to 76% and also boasted a patient acceptance rate of 93%.

The program will be rolled out to seven core European markets this year.

Perspectives Art Work

Henderson said, “People never really understand the patient journey. We can draw a step 1, step 2, step 3 journey, but it doesn’t give you the real insight. We wanted to unlock more about the experience of living with auto immune disease.”

So Abbvie invited 200 patients and an equal number of artists to join a program called Perspectives. Patients sat with artists and visualized the experience of autoimmune disease.

Over 230 pieces of artwork were created. The one pictured above is Henderson’s favorite. It’s full of meaning, from the steel that should be protecting the body to the way that material is wearing away, showing the burden of Chron’s disease.

Abbvie brought these pieces of art to international symposiums. Physicians who treat the diseases every day, understood the experience in new ways. Patients and loved ones felt heard and external stakeholders (like legislators) participated in new ways.

HS Online

Abbvie always supports people living with a painful chronic skin disease called HS (hidradenitis suppurativa). The effected skin looks like an open wound and is very difficult to treat. Most patients have had over 80 surgeries to try to treat the disease. Obviously, it impacts daily lives, making simple things like getting dressed difficult.

The disease is relatively uncommon and few doctors have experience treating it. Abbvie knew this was a patient in need of community; so, they looked to see what existed. They found one – that’s 1 – Facebook page with 30 – 40 connections.

They decided to seed community inside Abbvie. They found 60 patients to come to and spend several days building relationships with their leadership.

The action they decided to take was building HS Online, a digital community for patients. It’s been rolled out in 40 different markets and is trending toward connected 250,000 people. In addition to connecting people with each other, HS Online is also helping teach people how to navigate the healthcare system and advocate for the right treatment for this uncommon disease.

About the Author:

As Managing Director of Innovation and Insights for Syneos Health Communications, Leigh is responsible for building and scaling a global team of healthcare experts who together help life science leaders better understand the complex lives, influences and expectations of their customers. Specifically, they uncover actionable insights that fuel empathy and creativity; lead co-creation events that let marketers learn from peers, trends, and new possibilities; and help clients identify the most valuable and useful new customer experiences to create.

Leigh has worked with Fortune 1000 companies to craft their digital, mobile, social and CRM strategies for nearly 20 years.She’s worked for category-leading agencies in retail, public affairs, B2B technology, and higher education. Prior to moving to Syneos Health Communications, she held several leadership roles at our largest agency, GSW.  There, she founded an innovation practice fueled by the zeitgeist and spearheaded digital and innovation thinking across the business.

Leigh has taken a special interest in complex healthcare products that can change lives in meaningful ways. She was recently a strategic lead on the 3rd largest launch in pharmaceutical history: Tecfidera. Before that she had keys roles with Eli Lilly Oncology, Abbott Nutrition, Amgen Cardiovascular, and Eli Lilly Diabetes.

A critical part of Leigh’s work is trends and new ideas. Every year, she convenes a group of trend watchers from across our global network to identify the shifts most critical to healthcare marketers. This year, she led over 250 experts to experts to focus on the most important changes in the commercial, consumer, marketing, digital and healthcare landscapes. (See reports at

Leigh is a sought-after writer and speaker. Recognized as one of the most inspiring people in the pharmaceutical industry by PharmaVoice and Top 10 Innovation Catalysts of 2017 by MM&M, Leigh also was recognized  as a Rising Star by the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association (HBA) for her overt passion, industry thought leadership and significant contributions in new business, strategy and mentoring.