Andre Guillaume | The Innovator 25 EMEA 2023

André Guillaume

VP/Head Of Community & Brand Engagement



“My advice to the industry on embracing innovation is to do PR on the things people really care about, rather than on the things you have to sell.” 

André Guillaume has worked in various brand, marketing and strategy roles at pharmaceutical and biotech giant Bayer for 18 years, and since 2016 has been head of brand and community engagement at Leaps, Bayer’s purpose-driven venture capital division. Leaps was set up to help solve the biggest challenges facing humankind through early-stage investments in start-ups with bold, disruptive ideas. Guillaume recognised that brand building was critical for Leaps to succeed, and to be seen as the partner of choice for life science innovators. Explaining what makes Leaps such a game-changer was anything but simple, so under Andre's leadership, the division eschewed potentially boring, lofty messages and developed an integrated campaign built around simple, emotionally-relatable metaphors of athletic achievement under the ‘Breaking Through Impossible’ positioning. This drove creative strategy, showing how seemingly impossible leaps can be made possible with vision and collaboration. As a result of the striking visual campaigns and content, Leaps unlocked a groundswell of support and positive brand awareness, enabling it to engage impact investors, biotech partners, researchers, academics and early adopters, and grow its investment portfolio. Leaps now has more than $1.7 billion invested in projects including new technology to grow transplantable organs on-demand, developing new strains of ultra-high protein chickpeas, and innovative approaches to tackle cancer tumours. Guillaume has overseen Leaps’ brand creation and execution since day one, and is seen by his team as “a truly creative, original, and innovative communicator”. 

How do you define innovation?
Anticipate (changing) target group needs and adapt comms strategy accordingly. Utilize upcoming channels.

What is the most innovative PR or marketing initiative you've seen over the past 12 months?
F*ck Oatly and public transport operator BVG’s PR campaigns. 

In your opinion, which brands and/or agencies are most innovative in their approach to PR and marketing?
BVG, Apple Sustainability

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider to be innovative.
Launched the first ever out-of-the-box campaign for Leaps by Bayer in 2017, Leap of Faith, which won a Cannes Lion.

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation? 
Jennifer Doudna, the biochemist who won the Nobel Prize for work in co-inventing the CRISPR gene editing system. 

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
Listen to inspirational people/ talk to creative minds

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
Do PR on the things people really care about, rather than on the things you have to sell.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job?
Be a chef.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has provided inspiration over the past year?
Big Little Lies.

How can the PR and communications industry harness innovation to make more progress on diversity, equity and inclusion?
Sustainable innovation as a driving force for good – including D&I.