Columbus, OH — Last week, we got to take part in a workshop inspired by clues from the zeitgeist. Clues are anything that hints at a changing consumer need or a new possibility in experience created by trends or technology. We had three boxes of them: consumer trends, digital shifts, and brand actions. That last one was a collection of great things non-pharma brands are doing to engage people. The idea was that those examples could help us uncover new ways for healthcare marketers to break through some of the biggest barriers to change: inaction, lack of motivation, lack of knowledge, and fear.

Here are a few of the consumer campaigns we like most right now. How do you think they could change pharma marketing?

Lowes FixinSix on Vine

Just how to use Vine’s 6-second video format is one of the newest social media quandaries facing brands. Lowes was the first to crack the code with clever 6-second videos that are actually useful to customers. Each video has a thump-the-forehead quality tip from how to use a rubber band on a stripped screw to how use a hairdryer to remove a stubborn price sticker to how to use pillowcases to organize sheets. It took me longer to type that than to watch the the tips.

IBM’s Smarter Ideas for Smart Cities

Lynn Longbrake spotted this one: IBM’s “smarter” outdoor advertising is actually useful to the people who encounter it. Their flipped up, curved down, carefully placed signs act as everything from rain cover to a handy ramp. We love brands that add to, rather than interrupt, your day.

Game of Thrones Foreboding Shadow

In the weeks before the new season of Game of Thrones (which arguably has so many super fans, advertising seems unnecessary), the shadow of a dragon crossed over the pages of newspapers, magazines, and even the HBO headquarters. It was a campaign designed to delight fantasy fans and definitely interest the rest of us, too.

Harley’s Super Cool Test Drive

This is advertising you wish you were part of. In San Paulo, Brazil, customers of a Harley store were encouraged to take a bike out for a test ride. Shortly into their inaugural rides, 60 fellow riders unexpectedly joined them. They got the real experience of being part of Harley – not just riding one.

Qantas Right-Sized Novels

Qantas Airlines is launching a campaign called “Stories for Every Journey,” which will include a series of novels that take the exact amount of time to read as certain Qantas flights. Perfect timing as serials get hot again and e-readers have more noses in books than ever.

Nivea’s Solar Ad

Back to Brazil for one more. This one was spotted by Bruce Rooke: It’s an ad designed to keep you at the beach (using your Nivea). With Nivea’s protection, the campaign says, you never have to miss a minute of the sun. And, with this print ad, not even a low cellphone battery can stop you. The ad includes a thin solar panel and phone plug, letting users (readers?) recharge their phones with energy from the sun.

Posted by Leigh Householder

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.