Ross Thomson, newly appointed chief creative officer at Greater Than One, said a priority in his new role is integrating creative and technology in healthcare advertising.
After taking the creative reins at the firm, Thomson has been exploring how its tech and creative teams can work better together. He regularly works with Greater Than One chief technology officer Ken Winell on his ideas.
Thomson joined the agency late last month, reporting to president Kieran Walsh. Thomson is overseeing a team of 15 creatives across art, copy, and user experience.
“It’s important that we harness the technology we have and the creative abilities we have and we take full advantage of those capabilities to produce imaginative solutions,” Thomson said. “I don’t believe healthcare is quite there yet, and that’s why I spend a lot of time with the technology officer. We really want to think about creative that goes beyond a website, a banner to really get to those bigger ideas.”
The challenge to developing tech-infused creative ideas is often the very formulaic nature of healthcare advertising. Thomson said he wants to help Greater Than One clients break out of that approach; one way to do that is by bringing in ideas from other areas of advertising that aren’t as highly regulated, he said.
One of Thomson’s first tasks was holding a workshop for the creative team at which he asked staffers to imagine the kind of work they want to do, and then put processes in place to accomplish it.
“So much of the work in healthcare that you see is a bundle of benefits rather than true, powerful communications,” Thomson said. “We need different ways to think outside of the box for health and wellness and the pharma environment we live and work in. That can be taking workshops where we take ourselves out of our environment that’s so familiar and formulaic, just to really look at solutions that solve the client’s challenges.”
Previously, Thomson spent seven years at Ogilvy as EVP and group creative director. He also held creative leadership roles at Grey Healthcare Group, WPP agency Chemistry, Roska Health Advertising, Vox Medica, and Cogent Elliott. Thomson began his agency career as a copywriter at Publicis and McCann in the U.K.
Coming to a mid-size firm from larger shops such as Ogilvy and Grey, Thomson said he feels like he has more control over the work, instead of getting lost in the machine.
“Imagination is lost in our business,” he said. “It feels like agencies have overused buzzwords that the true meaning of those words are all but lost. As an industry, we should be all about the creative product, but the end product is often formulaic. We’re getting back to the beating heart of the product and our marketing.”