Joy Panday of No Fixed Address on Bringing the Consumer Mindset to Health

Plus, breaking through the rejection of science during the pandemic

Former spinning instructor. Some-time axe thrower. Aspiring world traveller. Joy Panday began her career right out of OCAD as a writer, and is now executive creative director at Canadian agency No Fixed Address's health unit.

Working in agencies big and small, Joy has contributed to big brands like Labatt, Johnson & Johnson, Porsche, Walmart and Mazda. Her enthusiasm for creative problem solving and working with multi-disciplinary teams has led to noteworthy accomplishments, particularly the award-winning Music for Memory Project for the Toronto Alzheimer's Society. Conceptualizing and executing this awareness campaign sparked her curiosity, leading Joy to health advertising. Working in health has reinforced her belief that placing the human being at the center of the solution is key. She has led creative in a number of therapeutic areas, including migraine, oncology, gastroenterology, cardiology, endocrinology and rheumatology.

From Walmart to Takeda, mass consumer to pharma, Joy is continually inspired to go past "good" to get to "great." And when she's not thinking of the next big idea, she's probably in a spinning class or planning her next trip.

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

Joy, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I grew up in southwestern Ontario, surrounded by open spaces and lots of fresh air. It was a bit of a culture shock when I moved to Toronto to go to art school, but the noise and energy of the city quickly grew on me. Whenever I think about returning to small town life, I look around and think, "Not ready yet."

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

I've spent most of my career in mass/consumer advertising: cars, beer, CPG, etc. But an awareness campaign I did for people living with Alzheimer's disease got me thinking about patients and caregivers and the burden of illness. You don't think about your own mortality until it's staring back at you. The resilience of these patients and their families flipped a switch I haven't been able to switch off.

Something people might not know about the healthcare industry. 

In Canada, we face strict regulations around branded advertising to patients. Our messaging is restricted to brand, dosing and price. Unbranded creative offers a bit more flexibility. Having worked in both U.S. and Canadian pharma, I've found that, even though the rules may be different, great creative can still play within them. And if your creative is smart enough, you can even bend them a tiny bit.

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

There was so much great work in the Health categories at the award shows this year, but the one that stood out for me was "Morning After Island" from Honduras. Timely and triumphant. It was smart, audacious, brave and actually created a shift in political will around a legitimate health issue for millions of women. To me, this is a beautiful example of thinking outside the rules.

A major challenge facing healthcare advertisers today.

The rejection of science by some during the pandemic was troubling. This could have consequences for the acceptance of new treatments—or even adherence to current treatments. We need to look at how we craft messaging and embrace new forms of media to connect with our audiences in ways that resonate with them.

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

Coming from mass, I'm excited about bringing the consumer mindset into health, applying the insights of modern consumer behavior—particularly in DTC and DTP. I believe an educated patient is an empowered patient who participates actively in their healthcare decisions.

How healthcare can attract more creative talent.

To attract the best creative talent, we need to work harder at dispelling the notion that healthcare creative can't be as rewarding as a car or clothing brand. Instead of selling a product, we're inspiring changes in behavior. That doesn't mean it can't be bold, or provocative or funny. It can be all of those things. If what we do convinces a person to get that prostate checked or book that mammogram, it could save a life. And who wouldn't want to brag about that?

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

 Oh, that's a tough one! Probably teaching Grade 11 English. I read a statistic somewhere that kids drop off in two key subjects during their third year of high school—math and English. If I could just get them as excited as I am about words and language, they could see that there's no difference between Shakespeare and The Simpsons.

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.

Jessica MacAulay
Jessica MacAulay is a contributor for Muse by Clio. She's also a recent graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder's College of Media, Communication, and Information.

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