A few months after I started working in advertising, I was at a party and met a friend of a friend who had been in the industry for years.
"You'll be lucky if you see one thing you worked on get made per year," he told me.
He went on to clarify that what he meant was that it was rare to see things get made the way you as a creative or strategist truly envisioned them. The journey from idea to finished project is a long one, with lots of hurdles in the way in the form of feedback (client and internal), cost, changing business needs and production along the way.
Even if something does get made, there's not guarantee you'll actually see it in any a reasonable timeframe. Especially if you leave the agency and/or country, and the actual product has a niche or internal audience.
One example of this is Pfizer Caremate, an app that helps advanced stage renal cancer patients manage their treatment, symptoms and issues. I worked on it while I was the Lead Digital Strategist at DDB New Zealand in Auckland almost 3 years ago, and only just learned (via Campaign Brief) that it's gone live (I suspect the long delay has to do with the legal and regulatory approvals that come with creating anything in the pharmaceutical/healthcare space).
This is one of those projects that was hard to work on, but that I'm equally happy we did. As the strategist, I conducted a number of interviews with health care professionals to learn more about the symptoms and treatment, and while this isn't a cure it's something that will help.
There's more from the Campaign Brief article, featuring my old colleague Hayden Kerr, here:
Caremate is a digital platform designed to help those with advanced renal cancer take control of their treatment. The digital format makes adhering to their programme and monitoring their condition easy and convenient regardless of where they are, ultimately helping them achieve better treatment outcomes.
Pfizer manufactures a leading medication for renal cancer patients. The Caremate programme was prompted by research gathered by Pfizer NZ in an effort to understand how to improve the lives of renal cancer patients and go beyond medication with comprehensive care.
DDB Digital NZ creative director, Haydn Kerr, says that while a creative agency developing a digital app to support patients taking a medicine may sound unusual, using creativity and empathy to solve a medical problem makes a world of sense.
Says Kerr: "At DDB we believe our role is to create real-world solutions for the businesses we serve. Caremate is an innovative new programme that does just that, and we're proud to work with Pfizer NZ to bring it to life for those in need."
The Caremate app and its support pack work together to remind patients to take their medication, record their blood pressure, mood and symptoms on a daily basis while tracking their treatment. It also provides guidance on how to deal with symptoms they may be experiencing.
Healthcare professionals can access the data from the app during patient visits to obtain a more accurate overview of how the treatment has been working and a better understanding of how to optimise it.
With a host of success stories in both New Zealand and Australia, Pfizer is now assessing how Caremate could be employed globally for other diseases where patients face similar challenges.
For Kerr, the fact that Caremate is already being used daily by patients to manage their treatment is immensely rewarding.
Says Kerr: "We produce work all the time to help businesses achieve their goals, whatever they may be, but to see something like this out there helping people and know that, with the weight of Pfizer behind it, it might go on to help many, many more people -- it's a very cool thing to see and an amazing thing to be a part of."