CDM's Oliver Caporn on Moving Past Conservatism in Healthcare

Agencies' moves into film, product development and more

Oliver Caporn spent much of his early career at Havas working on large consumer campaigns before starting his healthcare career as creative director at ICC Lowe (now FCB Health) in 2011.

In 2013, he moved to CDM London to oversee the creative rebirth of the agency. Since then, the agency has tripled in size and won multiple international creative awards. Olly was promoted to CDM Worldwide creative director in 2018.

Olly has also sat on many Pharma juries, including Clio Health, and writes an occasional blog about pharma and creativity. He also collects classic guitars and even attempts to play them.

We spoke with Olly for our series Checkup, where we chat with leaders in the healthcare marketing space.


Olly, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I grew up just outside London in the southeast of England, in a village called Oxshott. I don't live that far from there now and enjoy a semi-rural lifestyle, with a house that backs on to farmland but with easy rail access to London. It's actually just down the road from where the house in The Holiday was located.

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

I lucked into it through a freelance stint at Langland during a period of my life where I was looking around for a new challenge. The work they were doing there opened my eyes to the creative possibilities. I also liked the fact that every brief was helping patients or doctors, and that made a huge change from selling cars or marketing sugar to kids. So I took the first CD role that came along and never looked back.

Something people might not know about the healthcare industry.

It's a lot more like consumer advertising than you might think, but the people are smarter and nicer.

A recent project you're proud of.

We recently created a new global campaign for Boehringer Ingelheim's mental health franchise, announcing their arrival in the marketplace. For a campaign to work in Japan, China and the U.S. and still be creative—it's a challenge, but this new work manages it very elegantly.

BI Mental Health 2.0
Someone else's project within healthcare that you were impressed by recently.

I loved "The Bread Exam" work by McCann Paris. It does what a lot of great healthcare campaigns do, in that it says everything without saying anything directly. Difficult territory, difficult regulatory culture, but the creativity navigates its way seamlessly from advertiser to target audience and in doing so is more effective than any straightforward public information message.

The Bread Exam
A major challenge facing healthcare advertisers today.

Pharma companies want agencies to push the boundaries to find new ways to engage our audience, but to do that means a little bravery from everyone. Conservatism still rules the roost in healthcare. I also think that the misinformation campaigns on social networks are making it harder by the day for consumer-facing work to stay credible in the eyes of the skeptical public.

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

Opportunities for film have never been greater and agencies are getting involved in all sorts of product development outside of our traditional roles.

How healthcare can attract more creative talent.

The last few years have seen the major awards diversify into health and pharma, and traditional pharma agencies have competed toe to toe with some of the big names in consumer. As long as that healthcare work is talked about and celebrated within the wider industry, we will find the talent and attract them before they are lured to the dark side.

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

Having spent a life in advertising, my daily thirst to be creative could be quenched by writing fiction or even painting. But I've always fancied the life of a travel writer. Sun, sea, nice hotels and a laptop and I'm happy.

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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