Live from Cannes Lions: At Merck, there is a new brief: make creative irresistible. Merck wants to make healthcare brands irresistible by creating experiences that consumers stop, watch and engage, even in low-interest categories.

Three commitments help them build those experiences:

  1. Start with a shared aspiration that aligns closely with what the HCP or patient want to accomplish. Encourage them to be their best selves or invite them to be part of a movement. 
  2. Communicate with emotion. No matter how attractive a person or campaign, it’s emotion that makes the connection.
  3. Fuel love at first sight: In crowded categories, filled with so much sameness, think about the aspects that can attract and stand out


This approach has helped create global campaigns that move brands along Merck’s “love brand path” that shows the growth of buyer commitment over time.

Atilla Cansun, Chief Marketing Officer of Merck Consumer Healthcare, shared a number of examples of how this brief re-built brands. Two of our favorites were Nasivin and Seven Seas.

Nasivan is a nasal decongestant. It’s irresistible brief:

  • Aspiration:  Let everyone be free to breathe healthy
  • Insight for emotional communication: Men whine significantly more than women when they have a cold
  • Love at first sight: New premium packaging that consumers would be happy to carry


The result was a memorial series of ads and online videos that ran under local brand names around the world with the very memorable takeaway: “end both your suffering two days sooner.” The brand grew 51% over three years.

Seven Seas is a liquid vitamin brand. One of many omega 3 products with little differentiation and less insight about what makes people pick one over the other. Merck gave the commodity focus:

  • Aspiration:  Help people stay younger and feel younger at heart for longer
  • Insight for emotional communication: Ae you age your heart beats for moments spent with those who matter most to you 
  • Love at first sight: New premium packaging that stood out on generic shelves 


The result of the new focused media was 63% growth over 3 years.

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.