Why Authentic Storytelling Is So Critical in Healthcare
This story is part of a series of interviews with 2022 Clio Health supporting partners about the evolution of healthcare marketing. See more articles from the series here.
Muse: What is your guiding philosophy or approach to creating healthcare marketing that makes a difference for clients and the world at large?
Aerien Mull, VP of creative at Brunet-García: I believe health marketing shouldn't feel like health marketing. My recipe for impactful communication and campaigns is to connect core strategic truth with cultural resonance. As a creative agency partner, we need to move beyond being limited by the client's messaging goals and connect the results they desire with the passions and interests of our audience in a purposeful and pertinent way.
At my agency Brunet-García, we believe in the power of storytelling, so we often tackle big health challenges with a personal approach. There isn't much more powerful than universal truth revealed through the authentic voice or image of the people and communities we are trying to affect.
Describe a recent campaign that embodied that approach.
We recently completed "Out Loud" for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for National Women and Girls HIV Awareness Day. Research told us that both women and healthcare providers were hesitant to have conversations surrounding the topic due to stigma surrounding HIV and female sexuality, furthering a lack of conversation and awareness on the topic. However, after speaking with our audience, we learned that a critical barrier to opening up about an HIV status started with intimate conversations closer to home—with their partners and loved ones.
We worked with Ebony Payne-English, an HIV survivor, poet and activist, to craft a spoken-word poem based on her experience coming out as a long-term HIV survivor and the daily implications it has in her life and relationships. Her lived experience was able to shine a light on what is often not said out loud—those living with HIV are worthy of love and true intimacy is possible, no matter your status. We used her descriptions surrounding her various emotional states as she worked towards self-acceptance to craft our visual scenery and art direction throughout the video. Through authentic storytelling, we were able to take a taboo topic—sex and HIV—and create unexpected content that was able to pass audience testing and clearance processes at multiple federal agencies virtually untouched and resonate powerfully with our audience.
What excites you most about the future of health marketing, and how are you preparing for that future?
Over the past decade, we have seen social purpose as it relates to health, safety and wellness seep into the cultural and brand zeitgeist in an overwhelming way. Companies that seek loyal customers need to stand for something beyond themselves that connects with a vision of a better world. As a social purpose agency founded around 20 years ago on those principles, it's exciting to see the bar being raised in that regard. We finally are at a point where health equity also seems to be part of that equation.
We are actively engaging with our clients to implement health equity principles such as inclusive people-first language across communications, but it takes both internal and external education. We are providing staff training surrounding these principles and their importance, working with our research and communication teams to help build awareness though thought leadership, and providing tools and support to our clients as they work with their communities to build inspirational, informed campaigns.