2018 Executive Jury Spotlight: Elizabeth Elfenbein

“I both fell into it and was also fortunate to work across sectors to know that health is where I felt I could have the greatest impact.”

New York | September 11, 2018




Global Awards Chairman, Elizabeth Elfenbein is a creative innovator and entrepreneur with a relentless focus on what’s next in health and wellness. In line with this mindset, she recently launched a new healthcare-focused marketing consultancy, FastTwitch Group. 

Throughout her career, Elizabeth has built award-winning teams and transformed agencies. Most recently spending a decade as Partner, CCO of The Bloc driving world-class creativity and innovation for the company. She founded and developed several industry-first customer experiences and platforms that have been recognized around the world.

Elizabeth is a thought leader writing about innovation in the health and wellness sphere for Advertising Health,, DTC Perspectives, MediaPost, Medicine Avenue, MM&M, PharmaVOICE, PM360, Protoypr and about happiness for Coca-Cola Journey. Elizabeth is the founder of HealthWellNext, an insights and innovation blog, and magazine for the healthcare industry.

A sought-after participant on the international award and conference circuit, she has hosted Cannes Lions Health panels in 2017 and 2015, and experiential events during Internet Week New York in 2011, 2012, 2013 & 2014. She serves as the 2018 Global Awards Chairwoman and previously has served in 2017 as the Global Awards Co-Chair, 2016 Clio Health Chair, executive jury member for The CreativeFloor Awards and the inaugural Cannes Lions Health in 2014.

The motto for the 2018 Global awards is FEEL Creative.  It’s about knowing your audience and empathizing to deliver top notch communications to not only represent your client fully but make people happier and healthier. Tell us a bit about your process – do ideas just come to you, or is it a collective brainstorm with your team? 

How do you FEEL Creative?

For me it’s all about feeling people’s daily challenges, particularly when it comes to their health. As a keen observer of the human condition, having empathy and feeling a person’s unique health challenge provides insight into what their unmet needs are and how best to develop solutions for them.

With my team, I challenge them to feel the same. Wear your customers health challenge while you’re working on a project and see where it may take your thinking.

I’ve been preaching the concept of empathy for well over 20 years. As an industry, we’ve finally recognized the importance of understanding our audience and their respective health issues. I’ve always challenged my teams to, “take a walk in their customers shoes” and while it’s no longer a new concept, when you do walk in their shoes, you feel their pain. This exercise naturally ignites your brain and you can’t help starting to form ideas to solve some of these problems that they encounter.

What do you find thrilling about the industry now that may have been different 5 years ago?

I love the way technology has challenged the status quo in healthcare, asking people to think and behave differently. Today, our ideas are changing behavior in real and measurable time.

One example that comes to mind is the “living logo” that was created for Ecuador.

This adaptive branding visually displays inclusion and a sense of belonging in real time through the use of statistics. Every time a statistic changed, the logo changed. The data reflects the wellbeing of Ecuadorians. The uniqueness of this idea, as well as its intuitiveness garnered a new level of engagement, which allowed people to share their opinion and also see what other people were thinking about important national issues, like, health. This unprecedented use of data with real-time response educated and created inclusion in an entire community.

Health & Wellness and Pharma, although allied in many ways, can be described as totally different disciplines. There has definitely been a push in recent years for people to not only avoid illness the best they can, but also to be well and live their best life. Where do you see both disciplines going, both short and long term?

Our industry will continue to focus on the continuum of care, the health journey. I believe that the health journey will be the future of how we think about healthcare. Where is the customer and how do we help serve them wherever they are?

Health and wellness will continue to be about healthy living and preventing illness before it happens. Driving awareness, education, and using technology for monitoring health and more, is beginning to bleed into the diagnosis stage. That will evolve even more. Ideas will be educational, driving healthier behaviors and will be where the consumer is. Smaller rich media formats will be the norm so that brands can connect with people on their device of choice in the way they wish to connect.

Pharma, which has always focused on diagnosis, treatment and adherence will begin to move further up the food chain and push into prevention, with the smarter companies recognizing the need to support the drive to diagnosis. What comes to mind is genome sequencing which allows proactive management of your health future by understanding what’s in your DNA. The ability to proactively manage your health life is significant, it not only helps avoid illness, it also informs how to treat and manage illness once a patient is diagnosed. What this means to communications is the need to have empathy and create content that addresses consumers at point of need. This will be increasingly common as AI continues to inform insights about what matters to them. This will create tremendous opportunity to think about moving content.

What is on the horizon for the industry in general and what do you see emerging more in the next few years?

With technology insinuated into our health lives, we are going to have adaptive ideas that are responding real time. And this will have significant impact on behavior. Conversations with brands will continue to be on the consumers’ terms, however they will directly correlate to the communication that they are engaged in. As we continue to use machine learning our thinking and ideas will continually evolve in ways we aren’t prepared for. And the future will be when technology is inherent to the idea from the start.

We’ll truly be at the intersection of healthcare and technology having the ability to profoundly impact lives for the better. And this will become our industry’s rallying cry. 

Why did you choose to work in the field of healthcare and wellness advertising? Did you fall into it or seek it out?  And what did you find when you got there that you didn’t expect.

Being in a business where you have the ability to impact a population for the good is rewarding on the deepest level. Health is personal. And we’ve all been touched by health issues, whether it’s been individually, a family member or a friend. With my experiences, I’m more committed than ever to continue to personally and professionally change healthcare for the better.

FYI; I both fell into it and was also fortunate to work across sectors to know that health is where I felt I could have the greatest impact.