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Brett O’Connor, Creative Director, VCCP Health speaks to Advertising Health


This week we were lucky enough to speak to Brett O’Connor, Creative Director at VCCP Health.

AH: Please tell us a bit about yourself and how you found your way to being Creative Director at VCCP Health?

BOC: Although I’m the one writing this, I should say here that there’s actually two Creative Directors at VCCP Health, me and my partner Matt Macland. We’ve been working together for about 8 years now, first as a creative team and then as joint Creative Directors. Before we met at Torre Lazur McCann we came from totally different backgrounds. I learnt my trade in consumer advertising at JWT and Euro RSCG, working on the likes of Kellogg’s Peugeot and Durex – whereas Matt has always worked in healthcare. We’re very different people but we almost always agree, and that’s one of the reasons it works.


AH: Can you give us a bit of an insight into VCCP Health

BOC: These are really exciting times at VCCP. In my experience it’s a very special set up here. The agency as a whole is like a great big entrepreneurial hub. Lots of really brilliant companies all working together, sharing each other’s skills, and space. For us, that means we get to tap into the best people in the business whenever we need them – digital, designers, experiential, content, photographers and directors, whatever we need. The same people that are doing cutting-edge work here for O2 and CompareTheMarket are also working with us on our brands. Also, we get opportunities here to work with clients on projects that most agencies would never get a look at. Most of our work is Rx and OTC – typically developing international core campaigns.

Of course, the agency is also about the people. Our MD, Paul Phillips says it best when he talks about the kind of people we want to attract – ‘the brightest and nicest people in health’. Not one or the other, both.

We also have a set of principles we try to live by. Like: Be Approachable, Be Proud, Be Honest and Be Un-precious. I say ‘try to’ because each year we take a good look at the last 12 months and score ourselves based on how well we’ve measured up to them. One of those principles is Be Collaborative and it’s something we really believe in. Without a doubt the best work we do with clients is when we work as a team. We like to think that if a stranger walked into one of our meetings, they wouldn’t know quite who was agency and who was the client.


AH: Is there any recent work that you are proud of that you can tell us about?

BOC: Definitely the work we did on Levact for Mundipharma, which was really successful at the recent PM Awards. It’s a great example of collaboration too. They came to us because they wanted the kind of work that we like to do, and they wanted to get there together. Levact is a really old chemotherapy brand that still has loads of potential if people use it in the right way – but to do that, we had to get them to take a fresh look at it – see it from a different angle.
For the shoot, all the items you see (except the dog) were bought from cancer charity shops. And after the shoot, we gave them all back. It’s a really hard working campaign but it’s also really creative and distinctive and the feedback we’ve had has been fantastic.



AH: Do you think awards are an important part of our business?

BOC: This is an interesting subject and one that we think about afresh each year. The way that we see VCCP Health is as an intelligent, creative agency. A great combination of strategy and creative.

Work that works, and then wins awards.

Awards are really important of course, for our reputation as an agency and as recognition for the people who did the work. And that’s the thinking that drives which awards we enter. Because let’s be honest, awards are both expensive and time consuming, so we don’t enter them all.

We’re still quite a young agency and although we’ve got a good reputation in the agency world, we’re still a bit of an unknown among clients. That’s why we enter the PM Society awards. Also our clients just love to go along.


AH: What awards would you most like to win?

BOC: In terms of recognition within the agency, Creatives definitely rate the IPAs and now Cannes as the pinnacle, so those are the other awards where we’re focusing our attention right now. There’s no doubt too, that winning awards helps with recruitment – you become a company that people want to be a part of. And the more great people that join us, the easier it gets to keep doing great work.


AH:  The second Cannes Lions Health festival is kicking off June 19th are you planning to attend?

BOC: I just recently had the pleasure of being invited to judge at this year’s Cannes Lions Health awards, which I’m really excited about. It’s only in its second year so it’s still just taking shape and the perfect time to get involved. I went last year as a guest and it was amazing. Cannes is special because it’s truly global and it sets the standard in quality. Already it feels unique in healthcare. I’ve been before, long ago, when I worked in consumer and it’s great to go again now I’m working in health, it feels like a big leap forward – like health is finally coming of age.