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The Little Grey Cells: Bayer’s Patricia Corsi on Courageous Creativity


Bayer Consumer Health's Chief marketing and IT officer reveals how the brand is transforming its pitch process for the better, driving creativity and staying focused in an increasingly complex world

The Little Grey Cells: Bayer’s Patricia Corsi on Courageous Creativity
Little Grey Cells meets Patricia Corsi, Bayer Consumer Heath chief marketing and IT officer, who unpacks her journey into marketing, her need to keep learning, her love of creative magic and her drive to educate through advertising in order to improve global healthcare.

What inspired you to pursue a career that embraces marketing?

Patricia> My father and grandfather have always been a great source of inspiration even if they were in a different business. They were in the hospitality industry, owning their own hotels and restaurants. I learnt a lot from them but did not follow the entrepreneurial path. Instead, I decided to be part of the first cohorts studying marketing and advertising in Brazil in the 90s. I always loved brands and was attracted by the power of communication and advertising. My path into business was the best combination of these two important experiences.

What are the biggest challenges currently facing your marketing team?

Patricia> In one word: COMPLEXITY. External factors impacting the teams have increased, processes and deliverables as well. Every day I wake up feeling there is more to be learnt, more to read, more to act. I am always mindful about the say ‘more with less’. I am looking for ‘better with focus’. More than navigating, simplifying the complexity is a critical skill for the current marketing/advertising professionals. 

Science vs Art: With scientific data-driven marketing at one end of the spectrum and genius creative ideas at the other - which side do you lean towards?

Patricia> I would say those two elements are not mutually exclusive. The use of data and hard facts inspire creatives. If you put me against the wall I will go with art/magic that works even without wifi!

The Metaverse: are you ‘in’, ‘out’ or ‘not sure’? And please tell us why.

Patricia> Definitely in! When it comes to the new trends, the first thing I do is educate myself. I'm surrounding myself with partners that understand this world. It's very easy to put those things in boxes and say: this is virtual reality, this is NFT’s, this is crypto etc. But at the end of the day, I want to understand it first, including the potential risks, the development, and how it can be used for the greater good of the people that we serve. That’s more important than trying to be the first health company that dives into this. So I educate myself and share the learnings with my company’s leadership team, because I want everyone to be in the same place that I am. After that we’ll say: how does this make our consumers' lives better? And if there is an opportunity in there, then we will definitely pursue it.

How do you adapt a business and marketing strategy to embrace the latest trends and keep ahead of the competition?

Patricia> First you have to listen to your consumers and customers’ needs and to understand them in order to provide THE solution to their problem. Second, I would say it is by not being afraid to speak about challenging topics/taboos. This is what we have done with the Vagina Academy initiative that has received positive results and feedback across the world, including 20 awards and recognitions since it first launched just over a year ago. What I am the proudest of, quite apart from reaching communities that would not have access to the information otherwise, the campaign also drove the de-censorship of the word "vagina" on TikTok in Brazil - a global first - as well as on Meta in Italy.

What role does your company’s purpose and environmental strategy play within your marketing strategy? 

Patricia> Purpose and environment are two key elements that are fully embedded into our brands. In fact, the company purpose is ‘Science for a better life’ which highlights our commitment to provide the best products to ensure each person can enjoy life to its fullest even if you suffer from allergy, heart burn or thrush. 
A good example is our partnership with Vitamin Angels and our Best Beginning program with our Elevit brand. We bring support to low-income mothers to-be by providing the best start in life for their babies.

How important is storytelling when maximising your customers’ engagement with a campaign?

Patricia> Storytelling is very powerful if done in the right way. Especially in the healthcare industry where the jargon used can be a problem. We need to help educate with simple yet realistic and accurate information. The Edelman Trust Barometer shows that doctors and scientists are among the most trusted people. However, the language they sometimes speak doesn't connect with people. Marketing can help change that by making self-care more accessible. 

When it comes to reaching younger consumers, Bayer turns to gaming to promote Redoxon, highlighting the immunity-fighting benefits of vitamins and how that is very similar to protecting your defences in a game. A science-first approach would have talked about patents and studies. The consumer approach is about humanizing science first. Gaming, when used properly, is a wonderful vehicle to drive education.

Creative agencies rail against the time and resource spent working on pitches to win accounts: is there a realistic, fair alternative to the pitch process?

Patricia> I believe and work towards building strong relationship with a set of strategic partners. Pitch processes are complex for both parts. Last time we did it for creative work we have done a new process called ‘Pitch in a day’ which diminishes the burden for both parties whilst allowing for strong interactions. Kristen Carallo and I were on a panel together and she mentioned how important it is for agencies to interview and choose partners; not only for brands to select the right agency. I fully agree with that comment.

From a marketing perspective, what’s coming up for your brand or business in 2023?

Patricia> From a marketing standpoint, we will continue looking at data to drive insights and creativity. We will also continue to work closely with our strategic partners to launch some very exciting campaigns. One area I am specifically passionate about is the importance of creativity. We launched this year, just before Cannes Lions, a call to action to the industry to raise the bar in that space as the consumer healthcare industry has not been scoring well when it comes to creativity. I firmly believe that creativity has this stopping power with consumers and is driving business results. We need now to accelerate and encourage this industry to be more courageous. This is not only benefitting the clients or agencies but above all our consumers! 

Patricia Corsi was interviewed by Tim Healey (Little Grey Cells), on behalf of Worth Your While (

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Worth Your While, Tue, 29 Nov 2022 13:00:41 GMT