Brunet-García's Eduardo Sarmiento on the Playfulness Healthcare Advertising Needs

In an often-solemn industry, fun, excitement and craft help us break through

Eduardo Sarmiento is Cuban born, American by choice. He is executive creative director at Brunet-García Advertising, an agency 100 percent focused on generating social impact by applying exceptional strategic creativity to solve some of the most complex issues affecting our nation today, such as the drug overdose and HIV epidemics, and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Current clients include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC).

Eduardo is also a painter and illustrator. His artworks have been published and exhibited internationally and live in the permanent collection of several American museums.

Eduardo is passionate about life, ideas and collaboration and believes inspiring people is the best currency. We spoke with Eduardo for our series Checkup, where we chat with leaders in the healthcare marketing space.


Eduardo, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

Until I was 6 years old, I lived in my grandparents' house in Rodas, a small rural town in the center of the Cuban island. Many foundational memories took place there. My grandmother Rebeca taught me how to draw and encouraged me to observe, to pay attention to life. My great-grandmother Eva told me a few stories that really impacted me; she exposed me to the first metaphor I remember, and that has fascinated me forever. Many years later I studied graphic design in Havana, where I lived until I came to the U.S. in 2006. Now I live in flavorful Atlanta, Georgia.

How you first got into healthcare marketing, and what attracted you to it.

Healthcare marketing was a surprise. A very fulfilling one. I started my career working as a designer and illustrator for cultural institutions and as an associate professor at the Superior Institute of Design (ISDI) in Havana. The world of advertising exploded in my face when I arrived in Miami. It fascinated me. I dedicated several years to creating campaigns for local and global brands for the Latin American and U.S. markets. Then, I bumped into Jorge Brunet and the social impact work that Brunet-García Advertising was doing. I was very inspired by the ability to tackle today's critical health-related topics in an innovative way and with such dedication to the craft. Boundaries and regulations push creativity forward if we approach the work with the right mindset. We call it "Disruption inside the box" and we practice it every single day. I'm convinced creativity has the power to change people's lives for the better, and am glad to be able to contribute.

Something people might not know about the healthcare industry.

Many topics are extremely complex and sometimes controversial—health equity, drug overdose, HIV and cancer prevention, vaccination… So it can be common that clients and people in our industry confuse the importance of these matters with the need to take a serious, even solemn approach. That's precisely why we should do the opposite. There must be room for fun, silliness and excitement in the creative process. We ought to allow ourselves and our teams to play, explore, question and challenge our own views with no judgment in order to catch the big ideas, then fit the disruption into the box as they move forward.

Unlike sexy sneakers and movie promotions, people are not necessarily looking forward to experiencing content that will prompt them to face health matters, engage in difficult conversations, and make decisions that will end up in behavior change. So, to reduce people's resistance and stimulate attention, our work must be unexpected and captivating. 

A recent project you're proud of. 

"I'm a Work of ART" is one of our recent campaigns, created for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. We are telling the story of people living with HIV and how they use antiretroviral therapy (ART) to stay healthy. We wanted the work to be a celebration of self-expression, an affirmation of self-worth and the importance of care.

The illustrated portraits and videos brought to life by artist Temi Coker, photographer Jeffery Salter and Merge Studios captured the true self of our subjects while turning them, and their stories, into works of art. We're grateful to all participants for their trust and openness. I'm so thankful and proud of my team. We wouldn't be able to create what we do if it weren't for the brilliant and passionate people I get to work with every day.

Viral Suppression - Joey
WORK-OF-ART

WORK-OF-ART

Someone else's project within healthcare that you were impressed by recently.

"Helmet Has Always Been a Good Idea" is a clever, entertaining and very well-produced piece of storytelling that connects a current need with Denmark's cultural roots. It educates with humor and makes people confront the nonsensical nature of some of the arguments against wearing a helmet. It's content I'm willing to engage with on multiple occasions because it always makes me laugh and think.

A major challenge facing healthcare advertisers today.

Technological advancements have made immense contributions to our industry. We are only seeing the tipping point of what's possible and it's inspiring for the most part, but it's also a challenge if not handled with common sense. As a species, we have created the telephone, cars, airplanes, computers, vaccines, have been to the moon and back, and we still don't know much about our emotions and how to control them. We ought to pay close attention to both technology and humanity to find the right balance. We should always put technology to work in function of humanity, not the opposite, to truly achieve a better quality of life.

One thing about how healthcare is evolving that you're excited about.

Health equity. This is a major challenge that has been affecting our industry for the longest time, but I feel positive about the collective awareness around it today, the discussions that are happening, and the progress we are slowly starting to make. At BG, we are committed to helping our clients eliminate health disparities and contribute to efforts that provide all people with the information and care they deserve.

How healthcare can attract more creative talent.

Embrace more diverse voices and invite them to the table. Look for talent outside the expected places. Continue creating groundbreaking work that creative people are not only noticing, but cherishing.

What you would be doing if you weren't in healthcare marketing.

I'm very passionate about life and have many interests. I could be working as a painter, a lawyer, a psychologist, a professor, a taxi driver. To a certain degree, I do all of the aforementioned as a creative leader in advertising. :)

Checkup is our new weekly Muse series, publishing on Thursdays, where we chat with leaders in healthcare marketing. To learn more about Checkup or our Clio Health program, please get in touch.

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Jessica MacAulay
Jessica MacAulay is a senior broadcast journalism student at the University of Colorado Boulder and a contributor to Muse by Clio.

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