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The Pulse of the Pharmaceutical Industry

Lions Health belts a mighty “meow.” But, not for long.

Written by: | | Dated: Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

Five reasons Lions Health could consume Cannes

By Susan Perlbachs
Executive Director
GSWNY, an inVentiv Health Company



Cannes Lions Health’s tagline is “Life-changing creativity.” Sounds lofty, right? As one often hears in this biz, perhaps an over promise? I have news for you: It’s not. Life-changing creativity is exactly what this show is about. So much so, that I’m not unsure Lions Health won’t one day have the spotlight across all three of the Cannes Lions shows.

If you’ve attended Cannes Lions Health as well as the full International Festival of Creativity, you may be thinking, huh? Who in their right mind would prophesize that the health communications industry, most noted by Americans for 90-second TV spots packed with 87 seconds of words like diarrhea and do not take with alcohol could eclipse – or even hold their own – among the likes of Grand Prix winners such as Volvo’s Live Test Series, the Under Armour Giselle campaign, and Google? The answer: This gal.

It’s true, right now Lions Health is seemingly treated as “less than” within the Cannes Lions trio (Cannes Lions, Lions Health, and the 2015 newborn cub, Lions Innovation). In fact, while Lions Health occurs before the Cannes Lions and Lions Innovation shows, it feels a bit like an afterthought. Even change agents like Al Gore, chef/philanthropist Jamie Oliver, and a myriad of other big names – names that seem they’d be devoted to the notion of life-changing creativity – do panel talks at the “big kid” Cannes, avoiding Lions Health all together.  
Despite its current state, I’m making the bold prediction that 2-year-old Lions Health is going to grow up fast. Here are the five reasons I believe Cannes Lions Health is the future of all of Cannes Lions.

1. Lions Health winners change the world. Really. This isn’t your SNL-spoofed pharmaceutical work. This is amazing, life-changing creativity. Creativity employed to solve some of the world’s toughest health issues. “The Lucky Fish Project” won for its ability to help solve the issue of anemia in Cambodia, a condition found in 50 percent of their population. “Life-Saving Dot” won for providing a better delivery method for women in India to be compliant with iodine. And the Grand Prix Pharma winner, “Take it from a Fish” by AstraZeneca changed behavior in men with high triglycerides in a brilliantly executed manner. This is work that makes me want to add another checkbox to my list of creative criteria: Is it life-changing?

2. Life-changing creativity is hot. And not just in healthcare. Outside of Lions Health, world-bettering ideas are trending at all the Cannes Lions festivals. Adrienne Grenier was part of a panel at Cannes Lions called “Collaboration for the Greater Good: Game-Changing Partnerships that Galvanize Social Change.” Another seminar purported that it’s now imperative to build purposeful brands since millennials are such critical consumers. And, at Lions Innovation, Pepper, the first robot ever to be a panel speaker at Cannes, discussed how communication robots can read emotions and may one day cure loneliness in the elderly. (A little Ex Machina, but mind blowing nonetheless.)

3. Economics say so. Of the top 20 industrial research and development spenders in the world, eight of them are pharmaceutical companies. No other sector has that many companies on the list. You can bet your bottom dollar these players will do everything they can to recoup that money with effective communications. Then of course there are the stats that folks are living longer (most babies born today will live to 100), taking more and more prescriptions (last I saw it was 11+ written per American annually), and seeking more and more solutions to health related issues overall. All this adds up to dollars at stake that few other industries can shake a stick at. Sure, people will always want a Volvo truck. But they need their health.

4. Health-related creativity is winning at the Cannes Lions shows anyway. “Life Saving Dot” won a Gold Lion at both Lions Health and Cannes Lions. “Lucky Fish,” “Nivea Doll,” and “SOS SMS” also made multiple appearances. And there were countless entries that won in the Cannes Lions and Lions Innovations shows that could have undoubtedly made the cut in the Health & Wellness category if they had entered. I believe Lions Health will soon be the predictor of much of what’s winning the Cannes Lions shows – a little like the Golden Globes to the Oscars.

5. If you’re not there, you’re not relevant. More and more of our pharmaceutical clients are catching on to this, so attendance is bound to skyrocket. Panelists on this year’s Lions Health schedule included marketing executives from Unilever, Biogen, and Pfizer. These visionary clients are taking notice in part due to the facts involved: A recent study by IPA shows the definitive link between creativity and effectiveness. Creative award winning campaigns are seven times more efficient than those without awards in delivering market share growth per extra share of voice. Simply stated, if agencies, pharmaceutical executives, and health and wellness companies are working together to produce award-winning work, their brands are more successful. Given that the pharmaceutical, health and wellness category makes up an ever-increasing percentage of the total world economy, I’d say Lions Health is about to get huge.
When I return to Cannes in even three years, I’d say this will already be a completely different show. See you in Cannes!  medadnews

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