TANK Worldwide's Marty Martinez on Nurturing Creative Stamina in Healthcare

Plus, opportunities for creatives now that health and wellness are a dinner-table conversation

With over 20 years of experience in advertising, Marty Martinez combines outstanding creativity with superior knowledge of the industry. His work has spanned the globe and won numerous awards along the way. Marty constantly pushes the boundaries of creativity by bringing together art and science to inform work that will drive real human impact and behavior change.

Marty's empathetic leadership style paired with his strong vision for audacious creative has enabled him to grow and lead the largest department at TANK Worldwide, where he is chief creative officer. He has a knack for partnering across departments to uncover the insights that will spark powerful ideas and impact culture. He cultivates an environment where his creative teams can have individual impact and have their voices and opinions heard. He champions bravery for trying something new and pushing innovative ideas rather than one where failure is feared. 

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

Marty, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I grew up in four different countries. Born in Nicaragua, moved to Panama and then Costa Rica before making Montreal my home. 

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

After working for several years in consumer advertising and design, I got a call from a privately owned healthcare agency. What I discovered there were the incredible possibilities that the healthcare space had in advertising. Several years later, I can look back and pinpoint the exact moment I realized that not knowing enough was the driver to find out more, and that solving a problem in health with creativity makes everything possible. 

Something people might not know about the healthcare industry.

What you realize rather quickly, in healthcare, is that the work that you do has a direct impact on people's lives. It is always a grounding experience, especially when you meet survivors, families and people affected by those diseases for whom you can really make a difference.  

A recent project you're proud of.

There are two projects I'm very proud of, and for different reasons. 

The first one is "Feel What We Feel." It's a very simple idea that amplified a significant moment in history. The importance of using our voices and our creative platform to address this issue quickly became a shared motivation that led to a beautiful collaborative effort between two of our creative agencies and our partners. It is what allowed us to deliver a level of craft that made us feel something real. In the early months of the war in Ukraine, President Zelenskyy addressed the governments of several countries, including Canada. During his speech, he asked Canadians to "feel what we feel." This statement triggered an idea that was quickly put into motion, deploying media and influencers worldwide. Donations made to the nonprofit organization Razom have provided humanitarian support to the Ukrainian people with the delivery of more than 53,000 individual first aid kits, 130 pallets of trauma medical supplies, 50 defibrillators, three ambulances, 23 paramedic trucks, 500 forensic rape kits, and other supplies for immediate health and humanitarian needs.

The second one is "47 Seconds." On World Pneumonia Day we launched an initiative born out of the insight that pneumonia kills one child every 47 seconds in Africa. The campaign was meant to transform 47 seconds that kill into 47 seconds that save by challenging influencers to dedicate 47 seconds of their content to sharing information on pneumonia prevention. The campaign launched in two countries and quickly spread to over 30 other countries, impacting over 105 million people.

47 Seconds | World Pneumonia Day
Someone else's project in healthcare that you were impressed by recently. 

"Letters for a Law." A very powerful initiative that creates a parallel between the problem and the solution by relying on the purest form of a basic medium: writing a letter. The idea is powerful by its simplicity. It quickly denotes the benefits of medicinal marijuana for a Parkinson's sufferer. It also shows the potential impact that creativity can have in healthcare to help people, but also to influence policy.

A major challenge facing healthcare advertisers today.

Regulatory bodies and restrictions are always challenging, but the biggest challenge is how to turn those two elements into opportunities. It requires patience, bravery, and most important, something I like to refer to as "creative stamina" so we never lose sight of the bigger potential that creative has in this space.

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

Over the past years, healthcare has become part of our everyday lives. It is now a subject that we relate to quite differently. With health and wellness at the forefront of today's cultural issues, creativity and storytelling have a much larger role in educating all people. Healthcare used to be between you and your doctor, whereas it is now a dinner table conversation, and everyone is extremely aware and knowledgeable about health. As creatives, we have the ability to use our craft to ensure that the right information is out there, and that is an incredibly exciting opportunity when you realize it can make a real difference in the lives of millions of people.

How healthcare can attract more creative talent.

While the pandemic has made it difficult for the industry to attract talent, healthcare has seen significant growth and innovation, creating tremendous opportunities for creatives. Within healthcare, there is an opportunity to combine your craft and skillset to create work that can change a life, and there is no other place where you can use your art to achieve that outcome. With that in mind, the question becomes: Why wouldn't any creative talent want to work in healthcare?

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

Ah … a question I have asked myself several times, and the answer always revolves around some type of creative expression. I have to say that painting in a little studio by the beach while enjoying my family to the fullest sounds pretty good! 

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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