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My Experience as an MM+M Creative Awards Judge in a Word Was: Awesome

It was really cool to be selected to the judging panel for the 2021 MM+M Awards. An enlightening experience, to say the least. Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of judging creative work for many brands including the more “elite” like; Nike, GM, and Harley-Davidson and I must say, that the work I judged for MM+M was just as good and in some instances, some of the best creative work I’ve ever come across. Man, there are now many agencies out there that I have a newfound respect for (and a tad jealous of) because of the work they’re producing in our segment of the industry. It’s also tremendously important work and vital to the health of the healthcare industry and the patients we all serve.

Typically, when participating in creative judging panels, it’s mostly about the creative: the visual, the headline, and the campaign—this was actually quite different. We judged work on a multitude of criteria: creative, market strategy, market segmentation, spend, and actual results. There were nearly 200 entries which the other judges and I narrowed down to a select grouping of the “best-of-the-best” work for the Gold, Silver, and Bronze award selections. Categories ranged from a “Branded Website for Consumers” to “Diversity and Inclusion Campaigns” to the “Use of Immerse Technology.” There were multiple prongs to each entry, and each provided deep rationale behind “the why” of their creative submission, which provided a lot of heart and soul to the work.

Trying to identify trends among the great work I saw, I found that the marketing strategy, audience (voice of the message) and channel dynamic (channel selection) were fully integrated in the creative execution across the submissions. But the best creative work overall placed the audience (HCP or patient) right at the center of the story and related to the intended audience with both EQ and IQ. Meaning, the emotional tug was there, but the approach was smart too, fully surrounding the audience with pertinent information and conversation.

What did I learn? As marketers, we have limited time to engage our audience. We need to make it count on every channel. We also need to surround our audience responsibly across social, paid driver and destination campaigns. Most importantly, we need to tell a story. Anyone can read the medical journal article. It's the compelling story that pulls the strategy across the finish line every time.

The awards program takes place virtually and in-person in New York City on October 7, 2021. You can register for the event here. I think you’ll be blown away by the winners—I certainly was. Overall, judging the awards was tremendously valuable for me and my organization. I found myself jealous at times and pushed to do even greater work here at Avant Healthcare and that, at the heart of it, is what good awards programs are all about. Recognizing achievements across our industry facilitates growth and continual development. By recognizing our colleagues, we elevate the standard of our business. This kind of industry recognition provides a process of self-reflection and evaluation that keeps us moving forward. I went into this experience with preconceptions of all the limits on what pharma can and cannot do in our highly regulated environment. Those preconceptions were literally shattered, and I think the future of creative in healthcare marketing is bright—very bright indeed.

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