Fran Pollaro on Global Awards: It’s all about relevancy, especially in this day and age

Fran Pollaro was recently appointed as the Executive Director of the The Global Awards for the World’s Best Healthcare & Wellness Advertising. In his new role leading the competition’s expansion, Pollaro will be responsible for leading all strategic initiatives to elevate the competition’s profile, including recruiting the Global Awards international Grand and Executive Juries, developing strategic alliances, and championing the Young Globals student internship competition.

As he is taking over the job, Fran shared his view and vision over Global Awards and some of his insight regarding the healthcare and wellness advertising.

The Global Awards is celebrating its 23rd year of honoring the World’s Best Healthcare & Wellness Advertising, in your opinion, to what do you attribute the longevity and success of this competition?

Fran Pollaro:

To my knowledge, it’s a couple of things.  It’s the experience that the New York Festivals’ umbrella of competitions and the Global Awards leadership’s ability to stay current, innovate, and be flexible.  Michael (Demetriades) has been in this game a long time and has his finger on the pulse of the industry.  I’m learning more each day.

This is your inaugural year at the helm of the Global Awards, what are your goals to continue the legacy of the Global Awards and Young Globals and expand its global footprint?

My goals are to expand and do so quickly through as much exposure as possible.  The competition itself, and the people that make up our entrants and juries are truly dedicated, so putting in the effort to get more people involved, expand the field, and expose the younger generation to this sector is super appealing.  Last year’s show was great – full of interesting pieces that were poignant, effective, hilarious, touching…and so on.  I want to get the Young Globals brief into as many hands as possible this year, so we’re going to ensure it is there in August for professors to distribute and hopefully work it right into their curriculum.

Fran Pollaro at the 2017 New York Festivals Advertising Awards Gala in New York City; 5/18/2017

What excites you about Healthcare & Wellness Advertising?

Great communication excites me.  So, even if it’s communicating the efficacy of a certain drug, showing how it works, etc., I’m into the approach, seeing how something dry can be brought to life through graphics, copy, and so on.

There are certainly a lot of challenges when it comes to Healthcare marketing because of the amount of stakeholders involved in a transaction (doctors, pharma companies, health systems, patients, consumers – it’s a lot to consider when putting together an ad or campaign). Then, of course, there is amazing work like last year’s Grand Global “Clear the Pitch.”  The excitement is certainly here, as much as it is anywhere else.

Although it’s a sensitive topic, the direct to consumer debate is really interesting to me.  As long as the communication isn’t glamorizing the product, and is conveying everything the consumer needs to know, I’m in favor of it.  I am absolutely an informed consumer, so I want the information.  In the past six months (and with my Lyme diagnosis), I’ve taught my doctor and my cardiologist about new information. So, I don’t just want a doctor to convey something to me and take it at face value.  I dig, and dig.  I’ve always been taught to be like that, and it’s always been my approach to medicine and wellness.  You can get on the internet – and as long as you have a filter, and a desire/diligence to read a LOT & reach your own conclusions about you and your family’s health, I think that’s great.  I want to know exactly what my antibiotic’s job is, as well as anything else I’m taking into my body.  Empowered consumers!

Which trends do you foresee influencing this year’s Global Awards entries?

Trends include continued empowering of the consumer, which naturally leads to the topic of wellness, and preventative wellness.  What else –  The informed consumer’s method of receiving information – more of a shift to digital, because the consumers want to learn on their phones, make appointments from their phones, do everything from their smart phone.  I imagine using all of the data available to do what good communicators do – and let’s get the right information in front of the right people.  It’s all about relevancy, especially in this day and age.  We are masterful filters now – if we don’t see something that directly relates to us, swipe and buhbye.  In a split second.  Beyond the consumer, it’s communicating with those pushing your products – the doctors.  I think they have to be reached and affected via digital as well.  And they’re people.

How is Healthcare & Wellness Advertising adapting to the social savvy technologically adept millennial consumer?

The industry has adapted by delivering their information to them digitally, allowing them to interact digitally – and again, using data to make it relevant to the specific user.  And, of course, actual products – wearables – we had the Braille Smart Watch win a global last year.  Pretty amazing stuff.  Where is it actually?  Checked the website – it is available for pre-order now.

How has digital and mobile changed the way consumers connect with Healthcare & Wellness brands?

The information exchange, targeted data based marketing that is relevant, and influencers.  Influencer marketing is a big deal – a really, really big deal.  There are people you’ve never heard of with over a million followers – INFLUENCE there.  But, you have to wonder how long that trend will last because you know the truth will be warped via that route.

What is your future vision for the Global Awards?

Honestly, growing in terms of exposure is the first thing I’d like to improve, but I’d love it if we were top of industry in terms of competition, a destination on social media to showcase good work, as well as host stimulating discussion about the communications, marketing, healthcare in general, wellness, students, the public, those in need, etc.

What do you personally do to stay on top of the trends and evolutions in the industry today?

 I read through as many of the publications as I can.  And I’m pretty knowledge thirsty – I’m relatively new to the industry, so I have a lot of questions.  When I have a question – I seek the knowledge and follow it into the wormhole where I do find answers, but also find out a lot more questions are asked, and then I fall asleep =)

What makes a campaign worthy of the Grand Global?

 That’s a tough one and an interesting question.  A few make it to the final discussion in most cases, and they deserve to be there for a few reasons.  Perhaps it was cutting edge, insightful, and a new approach, or perhaps it made a connection by appealing to emotions – deep emotions, or humor (which is always appreciated, but not always easy).  The Grand needs to have a really strong voice, and be unquestionably attached to the brand/product at the highest level, and unforgettable.  You should want to share it and show someone.  I think with Health & Wellness, there are a lot of opportunities to make that connection on different levels.  Pharma has a bit more of challenge because of regulations and the variety of stakeholders, but it’s a challenge!

What is the ROI for entering the Global Awards and why should someone considering entering this year?

Winning a Global Award is a wonderful honor, an honor worthy of chasing down.  We’ve been running this competition for a long time.  23 years.  And it’s quite serious.  Our jurors are prominent award-winning experts at the top of their game, and everyone who works here is dedicated to providing the best competition possible.  At the very least, when you enter, your work is exposed to our Grand Jury, which is made up of accomplished professionals from the industry.  The Grand Jury is made up of last year’s winners and the top tier of peer-to-peer recommended judges.  After that, my efforts are going to be bringing more exposure to the work, more experience for our judges, and a digital presence highlighting both.


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