Editor’s note: This story is part of our 2022 PharmaVoice 100 feature.
Our honoree: Carl Turner
Title: Chief brand strategy officer, Klick Health
The company: According to the company, Klick Health is the “world’s largest independent commercialization partner for the life sciences.” In particular, Klick focuses on helping companies with developing, launching and branding new products.
Turner’s background: Prior to becoming Klick’s inaugural chief brand strategy officer, Turner held numerous leadership positions in the field including managing partner and chief strategy officer at Razorfish Health and executive vice president, head of strategy at Publicis LifeBrands Medicus. In these various roles, Turner has played an integral role in the launch of numerous products across various therapeutic areas including oncology, rare disease, immunology and more.
Yet, part of what has helped him cultivate a unique approach to branding is the experiences he had before joining the industry, including his time as a medical assistant, social worker, market researcher, data scientist, social psychologist and even as a professional saxophonist.
“Each of these unique roles plays a part in [Turner’s] gift for impressing clients with his unorthodox approach to strategy,” a nominator says.
Turner’s impact: Since joining Klick in 2019, a nominator says that Turner has changed the game for how pharma companies can approach branding.
“[Turner] set forth on a mission to redefine how life science companies approach brand strategy through authentic cross-craft collaboration and integration that’s unheard of in our industry to solve the critical challenges facing healthcare brands,” a nominator notes.
Specifically, Turner has blended approaches from cross-cultural marketing, corporate reputation and the company’s Sharp Targeting audience data tool to drive innovation that has grown Klick’s brand strategy by 300%, a nominator says.
To pull this off, Turner has built a team of “brilliant strategists” — many of whom joined Klick specifically to work with Turner — while also supporting young professionals through a thriving internship program. Under his direction, Klick’s internship ranks have grown sixfold to include almost 60 students who are integrated into Turner’s cross-disciplinary teams, a nominator says. And these aren’t interns who are grabbing coffee for execs — Turner is helping ensure they contribute to Klick’s work with its clients while gaining valuable professional skills along the way.
"Look for the best in others and then share with them what you find."
Chief brand strategy officer, Klick Health
“In addition to incorporating a mentoring component into the program, [Turner] co-led an Integrated Learning Project over the 15-week internship, culminating in a Shark Tank-like marketing campaign pitch to the creators of a pregnancy app designed for women of color to address the significant maternal and infant mortalities rates of their communities,” a nominator writes. “Not only did the winning intern group’s brand strategy bring the founder of the company to tears, but their work has also served as the basis for rebranding the startup.”
At the backbone of his approach is a solution he calls “the scenius: a collaborative model of mutual support and inspiration in which the whole is greater than any of the individual parts,” a nominator writes.
Why he’s inspiring: In addition to showcasing the difference brand strategy can make, as one of the only Black C-suite executives in life sciences, Turner is also committed to helping advance causes for people of color.
During the social and racial justice protests following the murder of George Floyd, Turner became one of the first executives to offer guidance on the creation of a manifesto called “A Call for Change,” which implored the industry to deliver on its promises of improving equality.
“He also enlisted Klick leadership to commit our organization to this manifesto that evolved into a movement for industry change,” a nominator says. “In fact, the principles in ‘A Call for Change’ are now a cornerstone of Klick’s diversity, equity and inclusion goals.
In his own words: “The most meaningful item in my office is my 1962 Selmer saxophone. It was a high school graduation gift from my parents — and is a constant reminder that play and creativity will always lead to my best ideas,” he says.