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OTC Marketing Awards Judge Stephen Mann On What Makes A Winning Entry

Executive Summary

What makes a winning entry for an OTC Marketing Award? HBW Insight speaks to long-standing judge Stephen Mann, an independent consultant and Rx-to-OTC switch expert, who has worked for and with some of the largest consumer healthcare firms in the world. 

The 1 September deadline to enter this year’s UK OTC Marketing Awards is fast approaching.

Taking place on Thursday 23 November at the Royal Lancaster London, the OTC Awards are affectionately known as the “Oscars of the OTC industry.”

For companies thinking about entering or preparing their entries as we speak, one of the OTC Awards’ longest serving judges, Dr Stephen Mann, offers his opinion on what makes a winning submission.

An independent consultant on reclassifications, Dr Mann brings extensive experience to his judging role, having been vice president of R&D for McNeil Europe – when the business operated as a joint venture between Merck and Johnson & Johnson – during which time he was involved in several major Rx-to-OTC switches.

As well as editing the academic journal Self Care, he has worked with European consumer healthcare companies on innovative reclassifications, particularly in new OTC categories. 

Why is the UK OTC Marketing Awards important to the consumer healthcare industry?
I think the awards are really important to industry because peer recognition of your work is important, and the awards allow you to judge your efforts against the best in the consumer healthcare sector. Winning an award is a tangible achievement and validation of the work that you've done. The consumer healthcare industry relies on high-quality product development and innovation, and I think the awards are essentially a great showcase for that.
What makes an entry stand out in your judging experience?
For me, the entries that stand out are those that convey a genuine passion for the idea that's being presented. And often that reflects the belief of the entrant that their product will make a difference to the consumer and improve their wellbeing. Evidence of consumer satisfaction and acceptance of the innovation is also important. But ultimately, it's the idea that counts and an explanation of why you're passionate about the idea is really good starting point.
What advice would you give to companies or agencies putting together an entry now?
A good entry will take time and thought, so I think people need to be prepared to generate new material relevant to the audience they're addressing rather than just recycling the material that they’ve already produced. Some insight into the thinking and the rationale behind the development is also very helpful. What were you trying to do? Why were you trying to do it? And what do you think you've achieved? And again, evidence that consumers value the work that you've done – this can be very compelling in an entry.
Are there any specific categories that you feel particularly attached to that you'd want to comment on?
Yes, the Most Innovative New OTC Product award. I always hope to see real innovation in this category and evidence that people are pushing boundaries to make a difference to consumers. Understandably, new category switches have often won this award, because regardless of the ultimate commercial success or otherwise of those switches, broadening access to effective medicines in a new disease area encourages people to question their assumptions about what might be possible. Genuine expansion of self-care into new areas is what’s most exciting for me when I judge this category.

Now in their 28th year, the OTC Marketing Awards celebrate the best and brightest of the British consumer healthcare industry.

This year’s event is supported by UK consumer healthcare association PAGB and sponsored by Inspiros Consulting Solutions, Dexcel Pharma’s Pyrocalm Control and Skills In Healthcare.

Companies and PR agencies hoping to win a prestigious OTC Marketing Award have just one week to submit their entries ahead of the Friday 1 September deadline.

While time is running out, it’s not too late to begin the entry process, with submissions open to launches, campaigns and packaging introductions/changes carried out between August 2022 and August 2023. Head to the OTC Awards website to get started.


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