More than any other awards program or conference, Lions Health makes me think about the work we do and ask: What is good? What is great? What is, in fact, Lion-worthy? For me, the best part of the festival is the discussion, debate, and even arguments we have with each other, especially about that last point.

It’s tough times on Medicine Avenue. But, by aiming to achieve one simple, straightforward metric, I’d argue we could turn every one of those challenges around. That metric is winning a Cannes Lion.

Recurring themes explored at Lions Health this year included empathy. The term was tossed around in all sorts of contexts – health bias, gaps in care, disease stigma, aging. For the most part, it was centered on better understanding between the health industry and people in health crisis. For me, as a creative leader and armchair strategist, empathy is most powerful in connecting ideas to audiences.

At Cannes, we were fortunate enough to gain exposure to what is arguably the greatest creative output our industry has to offer. Only the most exceptional work makes it to the final rounds of judging at Cannes, where all lucky enough to attend are afforded the opportunity to see some truly great healthcare advertising from across the globe.

Life changing creativity is what the Cannes Lions Festival is all about. It is wonderful to see the health and wellness industry getting engaged in creating and celebrating creativity and innovation on a global stage.

Lions Health. Year three. The first thing I noticed on arriving at the Palais is that there is a new-found permanence to the event. It was bigger and better provided for than in the previous two years. And, although it’s still small when compared to the Festival as a whole, this year Lions Health felt less like a side-show and more like a legitimate extension of the burgeoning Cannes brand itself. So far, so good.

As part of a mentorship program uniting UGA students with Publicis Health professionals, we were paired during the Cannes Lions Health Festival. And, although, we’re from totally different generations and backgrounds, and at different places career-wise, we were surprised by how much our experiences had in common.

They say it’s the light in the south of France that attracted so many of our favorite artists – Picasso, Cezanne, Matisse, and Leger, among others – all drawn to those magical low hills tumbling into the sea, bathed in a uniquely clear and warm light. But writers came there also – were Fitzgerald and Baldwin also mesmerized by the light, or was it the calm that allowed their creative minds to run free?

After two years of judging this show, it was interesting and comparatively relaxing to be an attendee at this year’s Lions Health.

I guess most people coming from Cannes might be struck by the latest trends in healthcare communications – the penetration of digital, the rise of the informed patient and the continued dominance in the prizes of ‘Good Causes’ rather than product promotion. However for me the biggest and most dominant theme that emerged both in observing the attendees, and also in talking to my peers across the industry from all specialties and geographies, was talent – or to be precise the lack of it.