Big Pharmas dominate Cannes Lions Pharma awards shortlist, with Moderna, J&J only pharmas in Health & Wellness category

Glitz, glamour, creatives, sun and blue seas: It must be time for the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

Held every year in southern France, this comes after the city's more famous Film Festival and sees major companies and organizations from around the world get together with leading ad agencies to vie for the chance to be crowned the best of the best when it comes to creative campaigning.

This year, Big Pharma has a strong showing in its own Pharma Lions section, while Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are the only pharma companies represented on the much broader Health & Wellness awards shortlist.

Released Saturday, there were 22 shortlisted entries for the Pharma category of the Cannes Lions.

This seeks to award the most creative pharma and healthcare ad and marketing campaigns from pharma and/or their agencies last year, specifically focused on DTCs, as well as regulated, non-regulated and veterinary work.

Of those 22 shortlisted, there are 13 pharma companies looking to compete for the Bronze, Silver or Gold medals, with all vying to win the top prize, the Grand Prix, and return from France with creative bragging rights.

The pharmas include the likes of GSK, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Jazz, Biogen, Organon and more. These are across a range of campaigns for patient engagement, healthcare professional education campaigns and disease awareness work. This is a healthy list for the pharma industry, which, in recent years, has seen other non-pharma companies take the leading gongs from its own award category.  

There are again this year still several non-pharma companies competing for the prize, including the likes of Siemens Healthineers, Airquity and Voice 2 Diabetes, with these companies predominately looking to win in the technology section of the Pharma awards. This year, however, the pharma contingent hopes to have the numbers on its side to take home the biggest awards.   

There were just two pharmas in the Health & Wellness category, which saw 129 shortlisted for the awards focusing on OTC and general well-being campaigns, in the form of J&J and Moderna.

J&J’s campaign was for “Illustrate Change,” the pharma’s 2023 initiative created to boost diversity and representation in medical illustrations.

Moderna’s shortlisted entry was for “Ashe Versus,” its campaign with legendary Black tennis player Arthur Ashe, set up to highlight Moderna's so-called “change-maker spirit.” Ashe was the first African American male to win the US Open, the Australian Open and Wimbledon in the 1960s and ‘70s.

The campaign shows a match between a live-action version of Ashe and animated versions of the opponents and obstacles he had to face during his lifetime.

All will be hoping for success when the award winners are announced Monday evening. Check back at Fierce Pharma Marketing Tuesday to see who took home the medals and who left empty-handed.