RAPP's Moa Netto on Whole Health and the Creativity That Drives It

Plus, how to attract more fearless thinkers to the pharma space

Moa Netto is the North America chief creative officer at RAPP Worldwide, where he codified the overall creative vision for the U.S. and helped grow and consolidate the healthcare innovation practice out of New York. Prior to moving to the U.S., Moa led Brazilian independent agency W3haus and also worked at some of the most creative shops in the country, such as Almap BBDO, AgenciaClick (Isobar), Ogilvy São Paulo and DM9DDB.

His background is digital and direct advertising, but he spent eight years leading integrated projects as well, both in the healthcare and consumer spaces. We spoke with Moa for our series Checkup, where we chat with leaders in the healthcare marketing space.


Moa, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I grew up in Vitoria, an island in the southeast of Brazil. Lived in Brooklyn and recently moved to Summit, New Jersey. This is my first time ever living in a house, not an apartment, and I am loving being reconnected with nature. Walking barefoot on my yard's grass every morning completely changes my mood.

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

It was an opportunity that came up. Back in Brazil, at W3haus, an independent digital agency, we were invited to pitch all Bayer brands for social media. It was kind of a big deal at the time. I had had little healthcare exposure in my career, with a few projects here and there. From day one, we knew we wanted the team to understand the space and its limitations, but also wanted the work to feel fresh, cool and disruptive.

So, to really immerse ourselves in the pitch and keep the creative energy up, we decided to rent a hostel and had our teams working from there for a month while learning about the brands and regulations. It was also my first pitch in English—the global clients were there—and it was one of the best meetings of my career. The clients loved the work we shared. They laughed, started building on the ideas, and clapped in the end. We won the pitch, and when we started working on their assignments, I fell in love with the humanity behind all healthcare work. Since then, I try to keep the same approach, ensuring the team is connected by the same values and has their creative energy in the right place, so they can challenge clients to push their boundaries while keeping the ideas compliant and viable. 

Something people might not know about the healthcare industry.

That it has some of the most talented and passionate creatives in the industry. They really care about what they do. They go deep in understanding every nuance of the disease: its treatment, how patients feel about it, and how the condition impacts their lives on all possible levels. If you have ever been to a healthcare focus group, you understand how deep these discussions can go, and you know that you can leave those sessions completely transformed as a human being. That adds a sense of purpose and meaning to everything we do, and it's something I feel the healthcare creative community deeply cares about. 

A recent project you're proud of. 

The most recent one was created for Taltz, and it's called "My Clear Truth." It is a mobile-first digital experience that uses personalization at scale to help patients understand the impact of psoriasis in multiple areas of their lives, like work, relationships, and social connection—and also to see how their unique experiences compare to others. Based on their unique profiles, they are given practical advice and a modern, personalized path to 100 percent skin clearance with Taltz.

Some things I quite like about this project is that audiences were segmented by mindsets, not just disease states, and the content we created matched these nuances, being designed in the form of interactive cards that use multiple visual approaches like illustration, photography, short videos and motion design. That creative flexibility allows us to see what's working for each audience and double down on it, while discontinuing what's not working.

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

A campaign that got into my heart was "I Will Always be Me" by Intel and Dell. 

It is a meaningful 1:1 experience that is designed to scale. It combines technology, creativity and storytelling to allow patients with MND (motor neurone disease) to record their voices before they lose it as the disease progresses. Having lost both my parents, sometimes I keep myself trying to remember exactly how they sounded, so I can totally relate to this insight. But I think this project flips that insight on its head, showing how important it is for the other side—the patients, not the caregivers—to have a sense of transcendence, proving the disease can affect their bodies but can't change their inner essence as human beings. It's one of those beautiful examples in which utility and emotion go side by side and are both incredibly important for the outcomes of the experience.

A major challenge facing healthcare advertisers today.

I think the biggest challenge is evolving from a TV-centric to a patient-centric model that works at scale—and can also include TV or any mass media vehicle if appropriate. That requires companies to revisit their tech and data ecosystems, revisit their content strategy, break internal silos and fully embrace creative experimentation and optimization, which means being a bit more flexible about how their brands show up to each individual to match their needs and expectations.

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

I love the expanded view on health. Medical care is estimated to account for only up to 20 percent of the things that can contribute to healthy outcomes for a population. The other 80 percent are sometimes health-related behaviors, socioeconomic factors and environmental factors. So the notion of whole health, approaching patients individually and as a whole, seeing them beyond the disease and as the complex and unpredictable human beings that they are, is incredibly exciting for me as a creative. When you approach briefs with that mindset, you realize every single aspect of the patient's unique experiences can make a difference. And where others might see nuance, you can find brilliance. 

How healthcare can attract more creative talent.

I think we need to talk more about the potential to do even more outstanding work in healthcare, specially pharma, and how to realize that potential. I've always believed restrictions and limitations are a catalyst for creativity; they force you to find solutions that are unique and specific to each context, and therefore more relevant. Think about it: If you have a brief now with an unlimited budget and unlimited time to build general awareness for a top-loved brand, where do you start? What are you solving for? If all creatives approach healthcare's unique human insights—and regulations—as an opportunity to force their thinking into a direction that is already meaningful and viable, and intentionally avoid going the expected and overdone ways, in partnership with clients that are willing to try new approaches so their brand can stand out, we will have even more projects that demonstrate how rich and expansive the healthcare ideas can be. I believe this will end up attracting even more talent. In other words, the right combination of creative mindset and client partnership can go a long way to expand the possibilities in the pharma space and attract even more fearless thinkers. 

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

I think I would still be trying to combine the power of creativity and technology to exponentially solve the world's most challenging problems, leaving a positive impact on this planet for my daughters and future generations. Because for me, in the end, it's always about people, and how we can help them have a richer life experience. And creativity has the power, like nothing else, to accelerate that.

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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