Close this search box.


Awards case study: How Retina won Gold for ‘Best use of customer insight’ for its work with Thermo Fisher Scientific

At the dawn of the Covid-19 pandemic, with scientists the world over needing connections to products, services and expertise to power their therapies and vaccines, the ‘Connections for Life’ campaign boldly challenged what customers know (or think they know) about Thermo Fisher Scientific’s Gibco brand. And it empowered them with the new knowledge of what they can achieve when they make that connection with Gibco – connecting ideas, cures, and people, across careers and lifetimes, and celebrating the impact and achievements of the bold men and women on the front line against coronavirus, cancers, genetic diseases and more. 

In order to achieve great results and emphasise the value beyond the product, Retina created a deep emotional bond between the brand and its customers. Retina refreshed the brand’s identity, raised awareness, and empowered their marketing teams to take the campaign to market. The refreshed content and design paired with a rich digital experience and clear brand guidelines enabled the brand to get closer to its customers, creating a strong community around its products. 

The campaign and strategic/creative platform instantly energised, galvanised and aligned the Gibco organisation and customers globally – as well as powered double-digit demand and significant sales growth. 

About the client company 

Thermo Fisher Scientific is the global leader in scientific instrumentation, reagents and consumables, and software and services to healthcare, life science, and other laboratories. A Fortune 500 company, the organisation employs over 75,000 people and generates annual revenue of ~$25 billion. 

Within Thermo Fisher Scientific’s portfolio of brands is Gibco, which pioneered the science of cell culture techniques and applications nearly six decades ago. Gibco’s innovations have been instrumental in scientific advances ranging from the first cellular therapies, all the way to cloning Dolly the sheep. Gibco is the market leader and generally recognised as the industry standard among biotech, academic, and pharmaceutical research professionals. 

Strategy – broader business issues the company is facing

The brand had somewhat stagnated in the eyes of customers and prospects. Though seen as essential and reliable, brand perceptions of Gibco’s innovation waned – as did awareness of Gibco’s extensive value beyond its products, from regulatory guidance to education to hands-on scientific support. 

Also absent from Gibco’s marketing was the deep emotional bond its customers have with the brand and their cells. At the same time, the brand lacked in-market consistency, as disparate marketing campaigns had proliferated different messages and visual approaches.

Internal, customer and market due diligence revealed a key insight: more than products, connections are what Gibco’s customers critically need in today’s complex and uncertain landscape. 

Scientific progress stems from the strength, scope, and scale of your connections. Connections between abstract ideas and concepts. Connections across research, clinical trial, and commercialisation. Connections from experts to colleagues to regulatory bodies. Connections of supply chains and funding to enable and keep the science moving forward. More than anyone else, these are connections the scope and scale of Gibco uniquely empower. 

Retina’s ‘Connections for Life’ campaign boldly challenged what customers know (or think they know) about Gibco. And it empowered them with the new knowledge of what they can achieve when they make that connection with Gibco – connecting ideas, cures, and people, across careers and lifetimes, and celebrating the impact and achievements of the bold men and women on the front line against coronavirus, cancers, genetic diseases and more. 

Connections are what customers critically need in today’s complex landscape. Connections with information and insights; with reliable, proven solutions and support; with expertise; with funding; with other scientists; with the latest innovations. The connections Gibco facilitates across the scientific community are also what make Retina’s value proposition so strong. 

‘For Life’ conveys synergy between long-term customer partnerships, and the value of offerings throughout the workflow, a seamless journey, resource, scalability, and a complete product portfolio. ‘Life’ also represents the notion of protecting and improving human life, quality of life, and maintaining cell life.

The idea came to life through bold, colourful, cinematic visuals that paired heroic imagery that celebrated the science with pointed questions that provoked customers to ask ‘Did you know…’ about Gibco. 

Objectives of the campaign 

Shift the market’s mindset from simply appreciating Gibco’s innovative products to looking for value beyond the product; raising awareness of Gibco’s extensive value – from inclusion and advice, to offering support and consultation, building a community, and creating an avenue to celebrate science. 

The target audience

Senior scientists within small biotechnology companies and academia, as well as project managers for outsourced manufacturers such as CROs/CDMOs. 

Media, channels or techniques used 

The campaign launched at the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic – a time when labs needed connections more than any other to get the reliable supply and expertise to enable and accelerate diagnostic and vaccine development. 

Retina developed multichannel assets and enabled Gibco’s teams to deploy campaigns across print, digital display, email, social media, digital events, video and refreshed sales collateral. 

It also refreshed the messaging, design and content assets available on the Gibco webpage/storefront within 

Retina used the new ‘Connections for Life’ platform to reinvigorate Gibco’s Education and Cell Culture Heroes programs – both built to help train and recognise scientists globally. 

The agency also developed a rich digital experience for the campaign that provided education about the things scientists may not have known about Gibco – and that featured an interactive quiz for customers to test their knowledge about Gibco’s connections. 

Importantly, Retina also created robust brand guidelines and buyer-journey, audience-segmented messaging frameworks to empower marketing teams across the Gibco organisation. This hundred-page playbook ensured that they could take the campaign to market, anywhere and everywhere they needed to be. 

Media mix: 

  • Branded content 
  • Digital media (including banners, mobile, animated, and/or takeovers) 
  • Email 
  • Events 
  • Loyalty programme 
  • Mobile 
  • Print 
  • Professional collateral 
  • Programmatic 
  • SEO/SEM 
  • Social media 
  • User generated 
  • Video (broadcast and/or online) 
  • Website/microsites (including home screens) 
  • Word of mouth/Influencers. 

Timescales of the campaign 

February 2020 – December 2020


The brand campaign has instantly energised and galvanised the Gibco organisation and customers globally. 

  • 12,000 new contacts generated (29% YoY increase).
  • Conversion rate increased 7% since the beginning of the campaign.
  • SEO channel traffic to updated storefront page: approximately 80% versus 62% for the rest of the company’s portfolio pages.
  • 94,000 YouTube video views of the new brand video.
  • Stem Cell Virtual event: 4,300 registrations from 114 countries worldwide (up 38% YoY, highest in eight-year history).

On the back of ‘Connections for Life’, Gibco continued to increase its capacity to help governments/biopharma customers globally meet demand for new therapies and vaccines – helping the company achieve two consecutive quarters of double digit revenue growth. Q2 revenue grew 10% YoY; third quarter revenue increased further by 36% to $8.52 billion. Specifically, Gibco-powered Life Sciences segment growth comprised over one-third of each quarter’s growth. 

What’s more, the ‘Connections for Life’ strategic/creative platform has been so successful and embraced that it has expanded to support not only Gibco, but also Thermo Fisher’s wider global Biotech and Cell & Gene Therapy marketing.

“This is the most complete campaign we have ever seen; our teams will be able to take this and run with it immediately. Congratulations and thank you for such an amazing playbook and campaign!” 

The B2B Marketing Elevation Awards 2021

This entry won Gold for ‘Best use of customer insight’ at the 2021 Elevation Awards.

Check out all the winners here!

Related Articles

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on your website. Read more about cookies policy.