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A day to celebrate the value of ideas

To mark World IP Day our latest work for EFPIA – the body that represents Europe’s research-based pharmaceutical industry – goes live today. Protect The Spark celebrates the value of ideas that lead to the development of innovative medicines.

Our work for EFPIA tells the story of discovery. How a new medicine starts with the spark of an idea, how those ideas need to be protected and helped along the way. The film captures the excitement from the moment an idea is born to it getting to patients – confirmation from sharing it with a colleague, rallying the team behind it, telling the world and seeing it achieve what you hoped it might.

An idea that leads to a breakthrough in healthcare can be precious. Advertising would rarely be considered to have the same level of value, but both industries are driven by the search for a new breakthrough.

It’s certainly what makes an agency like Leith tick. The buzz that comes from the moment where a new possibility comes to life is second to none. And just as in pharma, we know that ideas need to be nurtured, they need the team to get behind them and turn that initial spark into a campaign that burns brightly.

But is that what’s driving advertising right now? Unfortunately not. The changing media landscape has resulted in more focus on the medium than the message. The ability to do things like niche target and follow around the web means creativity is taking a back seat. As Les Binet and Peter Field’s work on advertising effectiveness has shown, this has led to a rise in short-termism and a fall in overall effectiveness, which led the authors to call for a more balanced perspective from marketers. Recognising the best results over the longer term comes from campaigns with the strongest creative. Their conclusion was clear: as advertisers we need to do more to make the case for creative ideas.

The protection of ideas is a hotly debated topic when it comes to the pharma industry. Providing the right framework which balances the interests of the inventors of new medicines with those of society as a whole is something that policymakers are continually wrestling with. It’s a complex area, but if there is anything pharma can learn from advertising it is that short-term reward alone doesn’t lead to longer-term benefits.

At Leith it would be fair to say that most of our work is not a matter of life or death. But with campaigns like organ donation and early detection of cancer we have seen how a strong advertising idea can play a part in saving lives. So on World IP Day we’re happy to be using our knowledge of the difference an idea can make in our new campaign for EFPIA. If it can help create an environment in which innovation and creativity thrive in the development of new medicines, it will have played a part in improving the chances of addressing some of the global health challenges that we face.

Brian Coane

Brian Coane


    Long-term Leither and public health communications afficionda, Brian leads our creative health work and has a strong understanding of the opportunities and challenges for the industry.

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