On Friday, September 11, Tim Dyer, Manifesto Chief Storyteller, addressed a group of 150 healthcare marketers around the power of storytelling in healthcare and the unexpected places from which inspiration can be drawn. The talk: A Spoonful of Sugar Makes The Medicine Go Down: Six storytelling devices to help you tell the world what you stand for and why they should care.

In his address, he unpacked the challenges of working in healthcare and the limitations of creativity that need to be overturned in order to effectively reach customers, patients, hospital staff and administrators as well as healthcare professionals.

"Some people think that because healthcare is so regulated, the work has to be safe—or worse yet—boring. When you create storytelling vessels sprinkled with sugar, you take what is often an unpalatable complicated mess of features and benefits and repackage it in a bite-sized, perfectly digestible story."

One of Dyer's main points was to iterate that inspiration for good work can't just come from inside healthcare. It has to come from the consumer marketing world. Among some of the work he cited as disruptive and unexpected was Droga5's Quilted Northern "Designed To Be Forgotten Campaign." Research revealed that toilet paper is only remembered when it doesn't work—and in order to provide true disruption, sometimes you have to shift your perspective. Armed with a little potty humor, Quilted Northern chose to personify bathroom knickknacks that, despite their will, are forced to remember the things they've seen and heard happen right before their eyes. That same shift of perspective—lateral thinking—as Dyer calls it, can happen in healthcare as well. He imagined scenarios where instead of becoming the voice of doctor or patient, personifying machinery that helps you get better soon. It's all part of the imaginative shift beginning to take place across healthcare where more risk is yielding more reward.

Other work he cited was Manifesto's own campaign development with GE Healthcare where storytelling vessels steeped in the look and feel of "Agents of Shield meets Men In Black" helped to dramatize what GE would look like it it collectively worked together to tackle the Operating Room. Coined "Operation OR: Special Outcomes Unit," the webisode series garnered a historic 5x viewing of any GE Healthcare internal video to-date.

"Healthcare is undergoing a massive shift," says Dyer. "Everything is being humanized, from process and workflow to the amazing technology that looks less like Terminator and more like Wall-E. When we embrace the humanity in healthcare and appeal to people on human terms, it leads to more satisfying and effective campaigns for its marketers and a stronger connection between healthcare providers and their consumer base.