Muzeable Thinking

Our blog, occasional white papers and case studies represent the foundation of Muzeable Thinking… enjoy

P&G/Merck acquisition is worthy of comment

Posted by on Aug 22nd, 2018 in muzeable thinking | 0 comments

Muzable Thinking No. 29 posted by Tim Brooks 22nd August 2o18

By David Gray CEO Creative Leap and Tim Brooks Director Muzeable and Strategic Advisor to Creative Leap.


The acquisition of Merck KGaA by P&G is interesting on lots of levels and it reflects some of the seismic challenges/opportunities the consumer healthcare industry faces at this point of change.

Why is P&G committed to healthcare/wellness? It probably reflects what we already know; the industry is doing ‘ok’, but the future potential is HUGE – we are still just struggling to define a journey to get there! P&G CEO David Taylor recently defined this growth potential based on… ‘The 3 megatrends that have supported the growth of OTC healthcare for the past decade should continue for many years to come.’ The 3:

  • Ageing population – over 65s population doubling to 1.6B by 2050
  • Wellness/Quality of life – aging populations focus on quality/outcomes and will invest in achieving it
  • Need for control – consumers are – slowly – getting that they need to drive this. No-one will do it all for them & they need info/support and relevant solutions to do this. Sadly, most regulators and many HCPs don’t get this ‘truth’ yet…

Scale aint what it used to be! This is also a tacit acknowledgement that the hegemony of global scale is over – in truth, it never really got going in OTCs. P&G know a thing or three and this deal wouldn’t have fitted their $ billion plus asset model of recent times. It is about smaller, specialist brand assets targeting interesting future-potential high margin wellness needs – this is a strategic change. Whether Nelson Peltz’s agitation is behind it or not is, in the end, moot, but in consumer healthcare this is interesting and it drives 3 mega-challenges:

  • New marketing models. To capture more growth the big OTC/healthcare players need to consider their investment models and global vs local balance – superior audience data/understanding will be key & influencing/expert strategies will need to change. We’ve wasted too many years ‘imagining’ that consumer healthcare is just like FMCG – it isn’t – this has driven some poor strategic choices.
  • Fighting commoditisation through ‘service’ and trust. Brands might or might not be facing an existential crisis [Link to Bain & Co article ] but in healthcare where generic solutions and regulatory constraints abound we need to define how we add value vs ‘the ingredient’ and the endless – partly ridiculous – rhetoric that savvy people buy own label. Amazon et al are magnifying this. But, we still believe, that better marketing – strong data/insight, more relevant products, information & service integration into e-commerce models etc. – can still create a world where consumers/shoppers TRUST brands with their health. The nature of this trust relationship is a fundamental truth that can differentiate us from FMCG. Healthcare must resist becoming transactional – an unintended consequence of mass market/mass retail/FMCG mindset.
  • Regulatory change. Underpinning this is a pressing need to drive regulatory/access changes to facilitate more marketing – this mustn’t be an ‘unfettered’ free market wild west – but if the industry is tasked with driving behavioural change then marketing, not healthcare systems/governments, will make it happen.

This makes us feel really positive. These are the challenges we & Creative Leap want to work on.

This is BIG STRATEGY and not enough of the industry is reflecting on, or talking about this stuff.

It’s complex and multi-faceted. A blend of big data and big insight. A need to be highly commercial – but with creativity and marketing at its heart. As sad consumer healthcare geeks we’re always happy to talk about the above subject matter with likeminded souls! So, get in touch.


Will Healthcare get bitten by the Blockchain revolution? A thought piece from a non-tech start point.

Posted by on Nov 20th, 2017 in muzeable thinking | 0 comments

Muzable Thinking No. 28 posted by Tim Brooks 20th November 2017

By David Gray CEO Creative Leap and Tim Brooks Director Muzeable and Strategic Advisor to Creative Leap.


Bitcoin, Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, Ethereum etc.

Most of us have heard of the ‘new phenomena’ promising unimaginable riches to early stage investors and disruption to traditional business models on a scale never seen before.

Is it just hype or the beginning of the end for traditional approaches to retail, banking, healthcare, supply chain etc.?

A sliver of cynicism is useful at this point. We’re old enough to remember the dot com crash when we had offers of sweat equity in exchange for free consultancy from eager young people who scoffed when you asked to see their business plan. Sadly, Jeff Bezos never approached us, or it might have been a very different story. But, we must not be luddites. This is happening.

So, what is Blockchain?

We’re not qualified to give the definitive answer, but…

‘It’s a distributed and immutable (write once and read only) record of digital events that is shared peer to peer between different parties (networked database systems)’.[1] It is the levels of data integrity that is fueling the potential. The value in finance seems obvious, but it is also really interesting in healthcare where personal, exploitable data and high levels of regulation abound.

The current issue is that the layers of utility that might be offered above this core functionality is, to date, largely unproven and snake oil sales-persons are everywhere! We are certain that, like the development of the internet, things will come… and go… before we find a modus operandi on which to build. It’s likely that, even then, 2nd and 3rd generation developments will disrupt this along the way just as mobile has with digital. One thing is for certain, it is not a panacea for any struggling industry, business or model. Nothing is ever so neat as to ‘save the day.’

There are lots of areas for exploration, but two immediately interest us in healthcare.

  1. Borderless and cross-border supply chains of medicines/regulated substances.
  2. Personal healthcare information (currently captured and shared with limited security).

A recent example we saw, however, clarified the potential of the first point and demonstrated how this could quickly impact on the healthcare sector.

  1. Cannabis, IBM and government of British Colombia

IBM has approached the government of British Columbia to help them integrate blockchain technology into Canada’s soon to be legalized cannabis trade.

According to an article published by WARC[2] IBM writes “Blockchain is an ideal mechanism in which BC can transparently capture the history of cannabis through the entire supply chain, ultimately ensuring consumer safety while exerting regulatory control – from seed to sale.”

The article goes on to explain that “the ledger is immutable, with cryptography ensuring that the transactions (blocks) once entered into the ledger (chained) can never be altered.” This also delivers transparency, as all shared ledgers across the network hold all transactions from all parties.

For the government, this ensures control and the potential to “eliminate black market sales completely.” For producers, the technology can assist with real time inventory management, supply and demand projections and consumption trends and data analytics capabilities.

We can all see where that might take us with pharmaceutical supply chain, distribution and business models. It is a potential ‘solution’ to one of the big concerns for regulators – the borderless healthcare transaction – as it can track the transaction with total integrity and can be matched to the local regulatory and safety needs throughout. We are also sure it will challenge and worry regulators, especially in Europe, where they are not famed as innovators!

  1. Personal data, empowerment and consumer healthcare/wellness?

Of more interest to us, who live in a world of people and insight versus global supply strategy, is the potential of Blockchain to enable us to share highly personal data with security and protection. Ultimately, and this is a breakthrough in trust and empowerment, there is no reason why the patient cannot be part of this chain versus a faceless healthcare provider ‘holding’ data on our behalf and occasionally losing it! Currently there are no established protocols for this. We don’t know, but we imagine there is a feeding frenzy of suppliers etc. trying to get into this market. So, when, how and if it becomes truly scalable is beyond us!

The question we ask, and would appreciate feedback and answers on, is whether, in the medium term, this is where the potential for consumer healthcare businesses/brands lies? This is part of a broader question we repeatedly ask about how we can use personal healthcare data in the self-med space to improve lives and wellness without being uncomfortably beholden to a Facebook or Google?

We all see the value of patient-data for ‘serious’ conditions and see the value of securely managing it in a way Blockchain potentially offers. But this must also be relevant for people’s everyday health, happiness and wellness data. Currently, people are sharing data with an openness that is potentially foolish with unforeseen consequences. They are, despite inadequate integration attempts by Google and Apple, storing any data they have – from wearables & other devices, a few apps on sleep or allergies and occasionally implants & data capture that are linked to more serious medical conditions – in an ad hoc way.

It seems that there is a wellness opportunity here. For someone to build an integrated store of personal wellness/health information – ignoring the artificial boundaries of health system/Rx and self-medication/wellness – that is ‘owned’ by and empowers people to make the data actionable. People are already considering this in the ‘app’ space, but what Blockchain does very successfully is to theoretically enable 2 things: protection – controlled by the individual as they are central to the network – and integration of discrete data sets. The challenge for brands will be that they aren’t  best placed to do the integration part which means they will increasingly need to engage with the consumer on their terms, in their world.

This holistic, data-led world is creating a fundamental engagement problem for brands and portfolio owners. How many relationships does the consumer need or want with health and wellness brands? An app for brand x in allergy or brand y for your skin condition is not irrelevant, but will only work for the consumer if it is simple and integrated into a broader solution. A one (or few) stop shop versus 25 points of data; 25 apps or 25 daily interactions in the self-med space? many of these problems are not serious enough to demand this effort, but people care enough to want relevant, specific benefits. What they will increasingly shun is the complexity of multiple interactions. Life is too short! (FYI, we are planning to share some more detailed insight on this soon)

So, we see the challenge for brands is the same as ever, but needing to work in a new context. These new technologies will build new ‘channels’ – either for communication or commercial interaction with customers and consumers. Some might fundamentally change the business model, while others will simply change the route to market.

Wherever we end up, brands still need to focus on what we call creating meaningful difference. A single-minded focus on driving relevance and distinctiveness. What Blockchain and new technologies do is fundamentally change and increase the challenge & opportunities that brands have to create relevance beyond the product. Brand owners are not usually very good at this. It’s hard.

We try to keep it simple and we would recommend (in thinking brand strategy vs supply) reviewing these new technology-led platforms and 3rd party initiatives through these two basic lenses:

  1. It is a potential route to market? Decision – do we want to play here or not? Do we have to play here for strategic reasons? Or most often – let’s test and learn, rapidly on a small scale
  2. Is it an engagement/relevance opportunity? These are simply more ‘touchpoints’ and interactions that can unlock insight and potentially drive relevance.

We rarely believe in inhabiting the bleeding edge. Our approach is the basis of fast following and evolving/defending your brand assets in the face of complexity and change. We accept that the speed of change might overtake us, but would argue that these two points will still apply and the pressure will be the speed at which we have to change direction.

But, never forget, your fundamental relevance comes from your ability to solve people’s problems; the jobs they need to do. Blockchain will not impact on large parts of this… immutable data integrity never offered fast effective pain relief for a headache.

So to conclude, BLOCKCHAIN does have the potential to, and probably will, transform healthcare and the role of personal information about our health. Is it anytime soon? Hard to say, but it seems that the disaggregated approach of the industry to solving this means a period of chaos before true value and integration emerges.

It’s going to happen, so watch this space, but perhaps, we recommend, don’t hold your breath.

[1] ‘Does Blockchain have a place in healthcare?’ Reenita Das on, 8/5/17


Some more (less shocking) revelations! A follow up on rational/emotional branding…

Posted by on Nov 15th, 2017 in muzeable thinking | 0 comments

Muzeable Thinking No. 27 posted by Tim Brooks on 15th November  2017


A further insight from David Gray & Tim Brooks into rational & emotional marketing following our previous article on the matter – read it here:  or check out

Serendipitously, a week after publishing a post on rational/emotional approaches in healthcare marketing, we saw a really fabulous presentation by David Golding, founder of Adam & Eve[1] entitled ‘Engaging the heart – the role of emotion in building brands’.

There was a lot about the John Lewis Christmas ads – if we’d made them, we’d talk about them too – but, far from one-dimensional.

He highlighted 11 success factors for making emotional ads. Not our place to steal his thunder, so, if you have a brand and a budget, call him and ask him to share! We’ve been making ads/working with brands for a long time and we both enjoyed it and learnt stuff.

Two things he said that were particularly relevant to our previous piece:

  1. Not all brands can do emotion. David graciously added, that the success of the John Lewis ads in delivering high emotional engagement would not have been possible without the residual love of the JL brand. The point is that – chicken and egg like – lots of healthcare brands are not found in the ‘love box’. They work so hard at building their rational platform, or their raison d’être and relevance doesn’t live beyond their rational benefit that is might sometimes create an insurmountable barrier to doing the emotional thang? Or, in doing so, it might distract from what they are actually good at.
  2. Find a truth, a narrative or story, in the brand DNA or heritage or… Find something that you can use to build the emotional platform, because in most, especially OTC categories, whilst the suffering or problem can be emotional, this is not easily ownable or leverageable by the pills etc. that offer respite. It is a highly personal space and we are not needed or invited there. A bit like banks telling us they want a ‘relationship with us’ [current advertising for one of the big ones], it’s not the key source of relevance. It’s a reason not to buy!

We would add that unlocking visceral emotional connections with a runny nose, piles or acid reflux is also just plain hard. To repeat, we know that these issues can have an emotional impact on people’s lives, but that’s not always permission for a healthcare brand to leverage it. Even in categories like smoking or weight loss or sleep (all of which we’ve worked in) there is an established distance between the huge emotional relevance and deep personal relationship people have with these subjects and what they want from a brand/solution. In part, it’s about sharing and openness and we can only occasionally do it e.g. Nicorette[2] often does it really well in NRT, but we also see it try and fail!

So…our solution?

Find the meaningful difference that will make your brand win. Don’t artificially think in terms of rational or emotional. It will follow because the meaningful difference will almost always contain both elements.

This will start with a single-minded focus on relevance and the first box to tick is the benefit you deliver and how you explain that it is ‘better’ than the competition.

Then drive distinctiveness. Your fame and memorability. Here we recommend, despite all of the above, that you DO look for emotional connections. Firstly, through great insight around the person’s needs. Then, through trying to associate your brand with it. But, don’t do it just because it’s received wisdom. If you can do a better job on relevance through rational ownership of the job at hand… just do it. You can still use design and creativity to be distinctive. The Nurofen ‘target’ logo did as much for the brand as most of its historical communication. It was even the basis for some of it.

To conclude, I suppose what we are saying is to start somewhere different and arrive at your emotional tone of voice and connection discussions once you’ve determined how you’ll win. We do lots of really emotional stuff, but it never starts with a quest for emotional work. It starts with a quest to be meaningfully different. Maximise relevance and maximise distinctiveness – the rest will follow.

[1] Adam&EveDDB

[2] The NRT brand owned by Johnson & Johnson

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