Cannes Lions crowns 2 health and wellness 2021 grand prize winners amid broadening field of entrants

Flags flying outside Cannes Lions 2019
Awarded virtually on Monday, the Cannes Lions Live awards for health and wellness handed out 50 trophies in the broad category.(Beth Snyder Bulik)

As health and wellness expands across industries, technologies and products, so too does the field of entrants queuing up for Cannes Lions creativity awards.

The 2021 health and wellness winners, announced Monday, span the gamut from traditional healthcare products to technology, fitness, consumer goods and even car companies. Winners this year include traditional over-the-counter companies like women’s health specialist Essity but also Google, Adidas, Unilever and Volvo.

The Cannes judges acknowledged the strength of the more than 125 finalists in the category with two Grand Prix winners.

One went to Essity’s campaign “Womb Stories,” which tapped into real women’s thoughts and feelings as they experience life with a womb—including topics like periods, infertility, pain, childbirth and menopause. The other big winner was Beco, the eco-friendly body care products company, with its “Steal Our Staff” campaign to draw attention to its employees, 80% of whom have disabilities.

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In total, eight gold, 15 silver and 25 bronze Lions awards were handed out in health and wellness for campaigns around the world.

Some were geographically specific, like gold winner “The Bread Exam” from the Lebanese Breast Cancer Foundation. The project centered on bread-making videos and print materials that show women how to examine their breasts for cancer, using the dough and kneading as an example—and skirting cultural taboos that typically would prevent women from talking about it.

Eva Clinic in Mexico similarly addressed cultural issues around breast health when some men won’t allow their wives to be physically examined by physicians. At the center of the “Untouchables” campaign is an FDA-approved booth that uses a 10-minute heat mapping exam to detect breast cancer without touching women.

One traditional healthcare industry player and previous Lions winner—health insurer Cigna—won a silver lion for its “Stress Portraits” work. Cigna and agency McCann created stress tests and colorful visualization results to help people and physicians literally see the effects of stress and encourage developing a care plan to change it.

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Since 2014, the U.S. has taken home the most health and wellness awards with 51 wins to date, the festival reported Monday. This year, public relations snared the most of any category with six trophies to its credit.

“Sometimes we get seduced by a piece of execution and the veneer of a campaign, but when you can look at tangible results and see that the creative has actually shifted opinion and made a difference, it’s amazing,” said health and wellness jury president Tom Richards, who is global chief creative officer at Real Chemistry’s 21GRAMS agency.