Live from Cannes Lions: Carlton Lawson, Head of Global Categories at GSK Consumer Healthcare, said transformation is an unending process at GSK.

In the consumer division, they realized their mission had become the “old way.” They couldn’t just rely on the science of creating category-defining brands that consumers loved because the difference between buying a generic and buying one of GSK’s consumer brands didn’t appear to be love. Instead, it’s trust. 

GSK believes people buy their branded products — from those that have been on the market for 4 years to those with 140 year history — because they trust them:

- Trust the product to work

- Trust it’s quality 

- Trusts people behind the brands to know their needs

That meant GSK needed to go beyond efficacy to deliver empathy and purpose. The shift want’s easy. They’d done loads of efficacy for years but lacked true insights to drive to empathy and purpose.

Physiological observations are not human truths, said Lawson. "A burp is not an insight. 'The food I love fights me back' is."

GSK’s new philosophy for consumer marketing: building brands trusted for every life.

Two of Lawson’s favorite examples of this new mission are:

Sensodyne Know the Feeling campaign shows just exactly how sensitive teeth feel in a way that no dentist or consumer wouldn’t feel instant empathy for.  

Horlicks Fearless Kota story that brings “emotional nutrition” to students at risk for suicide and shows just how well GSK knows their customers and their changing needs.

To drive change and transformation in marketing, they relaunched the marketing capability program, called Marketing iQ. It’s teaching new skills in building trusted brands as well as much deeper digital iQ.

At GSK, digital isn't "digital marketing." It’s marketing in a digital world. In the past, they told marketers to spend 20% of the budget on digital. But people didn’t know how. The result was a lot of unproductive spend in display advertising.

Today, they’re creating a safe environment to learn digital  It’s absolutely ok not to know how to market in a digital world as long as you raise your hand and ask for help. It’s just not ok to sit in silence.

Transformation doesn’t stop with marketing. Mark Speaker, chief digital officer, is leading a new era of change that partners with technology, R&D and others to build a true digital innovation hub that creates integrated solutions to serve consumers in new ways.

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.