4th March 2014
Stuart Wilson founded Creative Lynx in 1986. In 2012, when the company became HAVAS LYNX, Stuart took the position of non-executive chairman. Below he writes about the values and beliefs upon which the company was built and still remain true today.
It’s so easy to criticise big pharma. The Constant Gardener didn’t help and acts of altruism can wrongly be perceived as market development, but compared to bankers, politicians or energy companies I believe they have been a much greater force for good in society over the last 20 years. We quickly forget that drug and device developments have improved and extended the lives of millions.
In 1996 we launched Aricept for Eisai/Pfizer as the world’s first treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. At that time ‘Old People’ were, at best, given little more than tea and sympathy; at worst totally ignored. Our clients had a mountain to climb to promote an understanding of the appalling challenges Alzheimer’s sufferers and their families faced. Geriatricians knew what a game changer this drug was – but to change the perceptions of government, the payers and the media our clients invested not only millions of dollars but massive amounts of time, energy and commitment. I was proud to see how a client can look beyond stigma and ageism to fight for better social care… not just to sell their product but to genuinely try to improve lives. Nearly 20 years on and Alzheimer’s is now recognised as a difficult and life changing disease the world over. There are many other products in many therapy areas that have done the same.
So, back in 1986 when we started out on this long, creative road I believed the LYNX ethos shouldn’t be based on vacuous and transient consumerism. Instead we should use our talents for the greater good…in some small way. Of course, consumer work is more glamorous, especially when you are asked what you are working on by your mates in the pub…Carling, probably the best advertising job in the world… or is it? McDonalds? Nike?
Now, I know we’re part of a multinational advertising empire and that’s all well and good. At HAVAS LYNX we fiercely believe that we can help change things for the better and thankfully that’s how our clients think. And, nearly 30 years later, when everyone talks about ‘ethics’ or ‘business morals’ we can honestly say that’s where we came from, where we are, and where we will stay.
And, after 30 years, I can happily say that I am proud of our stance. It’s still difficult to explain what we are working on at a dinner party and sometimes it’s not that glamorous, but to my mind the main thing is it matters.