2 Minutes With ... Matt Gardea, ECD at WildType Health
As a car enthusiast, Matt Gardea started his career as an art director in the auto industry, designing everything from packages, trade show booths and even show cars. Though fun, it lacked the challenge and meaning that he sought. Matt found his true calling pharmaceutical advertising and he has never looked back.
Over the years, he has successfully branded and launched over 20 products in just about every therapeutic category. These include brands like Humira, Remicade, Tecentriq, Avastin, Opdivo and Keytruda, to name a few.
In his spare time, he loves to go boating with his wife, two red-headed boys and his Siberian husky. He's also a YouTuber, with over 1 million dog-loving subscribers.
We spent two minutes with Matt to learn more about his background, creative inspirations and some recent work he's admired.
Matt, tell us...
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
Born in Southern California, raised in New Jersey, now living in sunny Southern Florida and loving every minute of the endless summer.
How you first got interested in health.
I've always been into science and nature since I was little. I remember spending hours and hours in the farmhouse attic of my great grandmother in Indiana, reading through a huge collection of National Geographic magazines each summer. In college, I started off as a biology major but switched schools to Pratt Institute to pursue a creative focus instead. Healthcare advertising is the best of both worlds for me. My dad worked for Bristol Meyers Squibb for a long time and my mom became a nurse when I was in high school, so there's that too.
One of your favorite projects you've ever worked on, and why.
That's tough. If I had to pick one, it would be an unbranded campaign I helped create a couple of years back to raise awareness for a rare form of heart disease called ATTR-CM. A quickly fatal disease that was often missed. Pfizer was gearing up to launch a first-in-class medication to combat this disease and there was a huge need to educate doctors so they could help these patients. Very complex and technical stuff that we needed to simplify. To do this we created the "Suspect & Detect" campaign, featuring a bold visual of grenade heart and a series of entertaining "Dr. Detective" animated videos to get the word out. It was highly successful and was largely credited with quadrupling the expected scripts at launch for Vyndamax. Brave clients, brave work, great results.
A recent project you're proud of, and why.
Right now, one of the accounts I head up creative for is Keytruda. 34 current indications and counting. It's helping so many patients with cancer in a big way. Immensely rewarding to work on it with Merck. One type of cancer though, advanced bladder cancer (mUC), is especially lethal. The disease stats were so powerful that we wanted to humanize them to drive awareness. Sometimes the best and most effective idea, is a simple solution.
One thing about how health is evolving that you're excited about.
It's great is that pharma companies are working harder to ensure that their clinical trials are more diverse by patient population and finding new ways to support underserved communities.
Someone else's work, in health or beyond, that you admired lately.
I like brands that aren’t afraid to get weird or wild. Pringles recently promoted their "Wonderfully Different" multigrain product with a singing hamster. I appreciated the production value of the little guy's performance; his vocals could use some work though.
A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.
This one is easy. I just finished Dark Matter by Blake Crouch last weekend. I couldn't put it down, read it in two days. A mind-bending thrilling adventure into the multiverse, delving into the theories of quantum physics. Action, romance, science, horror, wit, twists, this book has it all.
A visual artist or band/musician you admire.
Well, I listen to wide range of music. Everything from electronic, country, alternative, rap, reggae, classic rock, jazz flute, you name it. One musician I really admire though is NF, he's an independent artist whose following is mainly on YouTube. His ambition, vocals and lyrical skills are undeniable. The fact that he can powerfully rap without cursing one word is respectable. My nine-year-old son raps his songs and I’m totally cool with it.
Your favorite fictional character.
Jack Reacher. The main character in Lee Child's novels. I read all 28 of them in the last couple years. He's tough, smart, and always stands up for what is right. The movies didn’t do the character justice, but the series on Prime captured him better.
Someone worth following in social media.
My agency, WILDTYPE. We are currently rebranding our agency in a fresh, fun, exciting way. So proud of my team. Follow us to see it all roll out. It's going to be wild.
Your main strength as a marketer/creative.
My relentless drive towards creative excellence.
Your biggest weakness.
My relentless drive towards creative excellence.
One thing that always makes you happy.
Boating, it’s my happy place. You'll find me cruising the intercoastal and parked on beaches on the weekends to unplug.
One thing that always makes you sad.
Commercials that show pets that need adoption. Ugh, heart wrenching.
Something people would find surprising about you.
I have a YouTube channel featuring fun videos of my Siberian Huskies with over 1 million subscribers. Our first post, and most famous video, "Husky Dog Talking—I love you" has over 111 million views. We even went on the Today Show twice.
What you'd be doing if you weren't in health.
Continuing to be creative in other ways. I’ve gotten back into painting recently which has been fun. Creative is not just what I do, it's who I am. Always will be.