Can healthcare advertising break onto the Cannes ad festival main stage?


Is healthcare advertising ready for the global creative stage? 

Rumblings from healthcare agency executives and marketers about the separation of the Lions Health Festival from the full Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity were reported in Advertising Age's final analysis of the event. It noted the "grousing by agency, client and media executives alike" and named WebMD CEO David Schlanger as one of the executives who "believes it's time to more fully integrate health into the main show."

Lions Health Festival director Louise Benton, when asked by FiercePharmaMarketing about the possibility of an integration, replied in email, “As anyone who organizes events knows, it’s an iterative process, and our work in this respect is never done, so my plan over the coming months--starting with results from our delegate survey--is to review both our successes and development points in order to deliver an even better, more relevant and valuable event next year. I don’t rule out anything at this point, and look forward to getting feedback, and sharing proposed future developments with our many industry supporters and observers, in due course.”

She noted that the Lions Health event was moved this year into the main Cannes Lions week, a change that came after intensive industry consulting and was “extremely well received."

The health awards also seem to be inching closer to the main event in spirit.

Dave Sonderman, GSW's chief creative officer, said this year's Health Lions felt "far more integrated" with the overall festival when compared with 2015.

Lions Health attendees got the same swag bag as those who were there for the innovation and entertainment events, while last year health attendees got a smaller bag of goodies that was branded specifically as "Lions Health," he said. Another sign of closer integration were official PR references on social media and digital that labeled the day after the two-day health portion of the event as "Day 3" of the Lions Festival.

It's all good news to Sonderman, who noted that "something important is happening with 'life-changing creativity' attracting all sorts of agencies and brands that are creating on behalf of the human experience. ... The higher the caliber of competition and the higher the creative standard, the harder it is to win and the more meaningful when you do."

Sonderman concluded his email comments to FiercePharmaMarketing saying, "Perhaps most impressively, the Lions Beach on Boulevard de la Croisette was open for business during Lions Health, whereas last year it was still under construction during that time. Nothing signals fully integrated like access to the private beach."

- read the Ad Age article

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