Pharma in the land of Cannes

Courtney Walker, MMC, RXMOSAIC

Pharma in the land of Cannes

By Courtney Walker, MMC and RXMOSAIC

The sun has set on the 71st Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, and much has been written regarding AI in the advertising industry, the future of PR and celebrities du jour, including Chrissy Teigen, John Legend, José Andrés, and more! Amid the fanfare, pharma continues to loom large and several key learnings came to light relevant to the industry.

Pharma PR awards largely sans pharma: Interestingly, among the large awards in the pharma category at Cannes, nearly none of them were from pharmaceutical companies. While there were many great campaigns —  from Siemens to KVI Brave   —only two out of the seven awarded in the category came from pharmaceutical companies: Biogen and Organon. Many pharma companies were shortlisted, but the competition is getting fiercer. Watching the judges panel post Cannes, they were looking for ideas “fresh for pharma” and were impressed by ideas that had a strong craft element. For instance, they gave a Bronze award to a surgeon cookbook where surgeons can practice their craft by making delicate confections. Food for thought.

Co-creating was all the rage: Consumer co-creation was top of mind for many brands. As an example, Coke won big by allowing store owners around the world to re-draw and recreate their iconic logo for their use. McDonald’s also discussed partnering with Travis Scott on co-created merchandise. The lesson here is that you must let go of your brand to really break through. This consumer trend could jump to the pharma industry. From a healthcare lens, there might be opportunities for fresh audience connection by allowing consumers (patients, HCPs, etc.) to have greater ownership and authorship over branding or marketing in ways that were previously not accessible to them.

Sports came rushing in: Cannes was a who’s who in sports marketing, with content including Kelce brothers, Kevin Durant, the LA Rams, Shannon Sharpe, pickleball stars, the list goes on. There were multiple sessions about the rise of sports in marketing, signaling that sports agents (of all stripes) are deeply invested in deal-making with major brands and the stars are primed to deliver messaging. This will be a clear trend for healthcare brands. Game on.

These trends and learnings represent only a fraction of the conversation at Cannes, which indeed was expansive. Cannes clearly continues to represent a moment for the healthcare industry to show their strength, continue their campaigns and look to the future.

Courtney Walker, MMC, RXMOSAIC As the leader of RXMOSAIC and chief growth officer of sister-agency MMC, Courtney Walker works hand-in-glove with the healthcare industry’s most consequential people and brands, including Merck, Pfizer, Regeneron/Sanofi, AstraZeneca, Novartis, Amgen, and an array transformational mid-cap and biotech companies who are challenging the status quo. Her work has built RXMOSAIC into a dynamic powerhouse bringing game-changing healthcare communications spanning all industry sectors, therapeutic areas, and comms disciplines.