Cannes, France — Grey’s Jason Kahner brought one of his heroes to the stage to kick off the second day of Lions Health. Hashem Al-Ghaili studied molecular biotechnology but left the lab to create films. He is now one of the most followed scientific film makers in social media. He garnered 2.5 million followers in just 10 months on Facebook and has collected 2 billion organic views across networks.


Al-Ghaili has eight commandments for creating video that people can’t resist watching:

  • Content quality. Of course, it all starts there.
  • Language simplicity. “You don’t just have scientists on Facebook, you have farmers, too,” said Al-Ghaili, “You have to present content in language everyone can understand.”
  • Visual presentation. Even if people don’t share a language or turn on the sound, they can still take a lot away from a video. That means showing ideas and experiences, not talking heads. Al-Ghaili also underlined the importance of the first three seconds. That’s what autoplays and where you can catch all those people who still haven’t figured out how to turn off that feature in their Facebook feed.
  • Length. There are two basic lengths with a best practice for each: showcasing with images and music (50 seconds to 1:30 seconds) and content based mini documentaries (3 to 5 minutes).
  • Music and sound. That’s what touches the emotion AND it’s also what could be standing between your content and the mute button.
  • Shareability. That compelling collision of all of the above. Plus, content that really matters to people and feels like it will change their lives today or tomorrow.
  • Media customization. Every platform has a different audience and a different culture. What works on Facebook might not work on Youtube and likely won’t work for the fierce critics on Reddit. Brands have to create and recreate for each destination.
  • Partnerships. Of course, this is where the viral reach can come in. Working with like minded organizations can rapidly expand your audience.

Kahner chose this topic because showing compelling science has long been a struggle in healthcare marketing. We push and pull with clients, regulatory, and even ourselves. Kahner said, “When those tensions go unresolved you end up creating advertising that appeals to the lowest common denominator.” Cue the reel of sea-of-sameness pharmaceutical ads.

Grey quantified the challenge in a May survey of ~300 advertising professionals. What’s the biggest burden in healthcare creative design, they asked. The answers:

  • 61% science visualization
  • 21% regulatory issues
  • 8% storytelling
  • 5% brand integration

BTW: The still in the main image for this post is Al-Ghaili’s anecdote to that challenge. See the full video on Facebook.

About the Author:

As Managing Director of Innovation for Syneos Health Communications, Leigh is responsible for shaping the company’s perspective on the next era of healthcare marketing. Through thought leadership, strategic innovation workshops and new products and capabilities, Leigh focuses on identifying marketing approaches that will fuel that new era and generate significant growth for clients. Leigh has worked with Fortune 1000 companies to craft their digital, mobile, social and CRM strategies for over 17 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 had several leadership roles at one of our agencies, 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. Leigh is a sought-after writer and speaker. Recognized as one of the most inspiring people in the pharmaceutical industry by PharmaVoice, 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.