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Advertising Health | Healthcare Advertising agency news and gossip

We talk to Sayan Ray, Creative Director at Grey New York


Sayan has spent the past 17 years in various creative roles in New York agencies, focusing exclusively in the healthcare sector the last 12 years.

He is the Creative Director of Digital and Healthcare Professional communications at Grey New York. Grey NY has undergone a creative transformation in past 5-6 years culminating this year with Ad Age’s recognition of us as The Agency of the Year.

Here is what he had to say when we spoke to him last week.

AH:  If you could win any award for your work this year what would it be and why?

SR: MM&M. They are very selective and they put on a great show every year.

AH: Do we really need award shows? What value do you see them offering?

SR: They are not an absolute necessity, but, it is a good thing when the industry recognizes the hard work it takes to do something great in Healthcare. Also, awards help set and raise standards year after year.

AH:  How would you see the work other agencies are making if award shows didn’t exist?

SR: I would see other agencies work when interviewing candidates, on their respective websites, and when they are on air, online, or in print.

AH: Should healthcare advertising still be regarded as separate from the wider Advertising community?

SR: Yes, definitely. We have a different audience and a different value proposition. That said – all agencies have research, briefs, brainstorms, concepts, and of course – alcohol.

AH: Do you consider yourself as someone who works more in advertising of more in pharma?


AH: Do you think we sometimes use regulation an excuse to make work that doesn’t live up to standard consumer advertising?

SR: Some folks do – but is there a regulation against great art direction or design? Not that I know of.

AH: What is the single change you’d like to see in the industry this year?

SR: I would like to see more independent healthcare agencies formed – it’s good for clients and creatives alike. Network agencies have their pluses – and I am happy working for one of them – but diverse agency models are important since our clients are becoming more and more diverse.

AH: Where do you look for inspiration?

SR: All around me. I’m fortunate to work in a city that inspires me the moment I walk out the door.

AH: Do you look at other healthcare agencies around the world? Who do you think is making the best work at the moment?

SR: There’s a lot of good ones but I’m not sure there’s any one agency leading the pack. There’s great things coming out of McCann Health Sydney, Langland in the UK, and Digitas Philadelphia.

AH: What is the best piece of work you’ve seen this year?

SR: The ‘Ididthis’ campaign by Langland. It’s beautifully done (the website is terrific) and the cause is worthy – to connect patients with unmet medical needs to life-saving medicines.

AH: How do you compare the quality of creative work in healthcare Advertising vs Consumer advertising?

SR: In pure creative terms consumer is often more interesting, funny, dark, etc. – all things that make for great creative. But advertising is not just about creativity. Quality work is also about persuasion, recall, loyalty, etc. In those terms we are right up there with consumer.  Think about it – our sector has created numerous billion-dollar brands that are part of pop culture (Viagra, Prozac, Botux) even though we are heavily regulated and have a predetermined shelf-life of about 15-20 years. Not bad.

AH:  What one thing would you want to say to someone new to the industry? That you wish someone has said to you when you started?

SR: I would say that working in pharma is incredibly rewarding. We have the opportunity to promote products that help and in many cases save lives. We are in a sector that always has been and always will be of utmost importance for every society around the world.

AH:  Who do you look up to and why? 

SR: There’s a lot of people in the industry I respect and admire. I’m not sure if I look up to anyone though. I look up to my parents. They’re wonderful people who’ve done a lot for me.

AH: If you could read an interview on advertising health from anyone in healthcare advertising who would it be with? And what would you want to know? 

SR: I think you should interview someone from the OPDP. But I wouldn’t ask them about regulations – I would ask them about their favourite healthcare campaigns throughout the years. Now that would be interesting!

AH: Thanks Sayan