Top Talks on Pharma: Elaine Rumack, Sr. Partner, Sr. Director, Digital & Bill Heilmann, Managing Partner, Strategy + Communications Planning, MEC Global


Elaine Rumack and Bill Heilmann are established leaders within the advertising and communication field with a special focus on Pharma. They are committed to ensuring that strategies are relevant and anchored in human insight and in providing our valued clients with counsel to ensure they achieve their goals.

MEC maintains a number of Pharma clients such as Amgen, Biogen and Otsuka. As an agency, what have you done to create a culture that encourages and embraces innovation and creativity to benefit all clients without compromising compliance regulations of Pharma companies?

We are in a talent-fueled industry, and the people who power our organization play a central role in our ability to innovate and deliver world-class creativity. To that end, and considering the competitive landscape, we continuously refine our recruitment and placement criteria to ensure that we’re always providing our clients with top-tier talent who are naturally curious and exhibit a “beta” mindset, relevant to the business they work with.

Culturally speaking, we have a variety of offerings that inspire breakthrough thinking, like our Innovation & Consumer Technology Start-up Program, Test Drive and Focus Live events. With an eye towards innovation, we are constantly developing proprietary tools that encourage exploration of new frontiers. But when it comes to Pharma, we keep everyone grounded in the regulatory parameters via a rigorous on boarding process and ongoing education. Our most impactful innovations in Pharma have been the product of well-informed and inspired minds.

What kind of partnerships are you looking for to help you leverage the new marketing tools and technology available today?

With the rise of digital and mobile technologies, media fragmentation and expanding ecommerce, there is a pivot point in marketing where the scientific application of data to media strategies has become essential. While we have built a proprietary platform to specifically address this, we continue to explore new data partnerships that provide unique information to help us better identify our Pharma clients’ audiences and connect with them on a more human level. Whether through the lens of audio or even AI, we continue to seek category-first partnerships with industry innovators who are striving to connect the best of consumer technology and tools with the evolving needs of patients to improve all aspects of their health experiences.

Is there a trend that Pharma should jump into that they haven’t yet?

It just wouldn’t seem right if we didn’t give a nod to Artificial Intelligence. There are so many interesting applications that beg for greater exploration in this area. That said, another interesting trend where we see intriguing potential is in the arena of “quantified blood.” Companies like InsideTracker are using home-based, blood analytics to create personalized nutrition and lifestyle recommendations designed to optimize consumer wellness. Since the analysis looks at things like vitamin levels and cholesterol, it is easy to see how this could become an interesting tool for HCP’s to promote important lifestyle changes and help patients track personal progress in conjunction with their treatment. Paired with the right Pharma brands, there could be some worthwhile possibilities.

Why do you think it’s important for strategists to spend time in the Pharma category?  

Great strategists naturally strive to be a catalyst for breakthrough ideas, so they are often drawn to categories where they can spread their wings with few constraints. While many Strategic Planners look at Pharma and see its obstacles, they would be much better served by embracing its unique challenges and opportunities. When people apply their skills in this category, they often become sharper, more agile marketers because there is a tremendous amount of knowledge and rigor required to successfully and creatively navigate the Pharma landscape. Moreover, strategists tend to strengthen their emotional intelligence because they are continuously delving into the hopes and fears that are so prevalent in the category. Perhaps the greatest reward a strategist can have is the realization that his or her thinking played an important role in positively transforming someone’s life. That can be far more edifying than any trophy we put on our shelves.