One Show renews health and pharma ad awards, citing better creative in the industry

The One Show is reinstating health and pharma categories for its annual advertising creativity contest.

Pharma is back in the One Show creative advertising awards lineup.

The awards show, put on by nonprofit The One Club for Creativity, has added the Health, Wellness & Pharmaceutical category for 2018, more than a decade after it discontinued and separated the “One Show Rx” pharma-specific show.

The One Club reinstated the categories after a board vote in December. This time, the pharma and health categories will be integrated into the main One Show with the awards—called Gold, Silver or Bronze Pencils—given out at ceremonies on May 9 and 11.


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The separate One Show Rx ran from 2001 through 2004, but the board decided to pull the show—even though it was financially successful—because “the level of work being done at the time wasn’t worthy of awarding a One Show Pencil,” CEO Kevin Swanepoel said.

But that's changed, the One Club board now agrees.

“With a lot of shows now rewarding the (pharma and healthcare) work, creatives are pushing the boundaries and the work has gotten a lot more creative,” Swanepoel said. He added that better work also helps attract better talent and encourages pharma and healthcare clients to be more “brave” in trying new or envelope-pushing ads, lifting the overall quality even further.

Health content has been recognized as part of the general One Show during the category-specific absent years. For instance, “Meet Graham,” which won health awards from the other major advertising creative shows Cannes Lions Health and the Clios, won a gold and a silver Pencil in last year’s One Show. The road safety campaign imagines what a human body would have to look like to naturally withstand car crashes.

The official titles of the added health categories for this year’s One Show are: OTC, Dietary Supplements/Nutraceuticals, OTC Products and Equipment, Prescription/Pharmaceuticals, Health Services, Awareness/Advocacy/Education/Fundraising, and Business-to-Business. The recently announced panel of judges includes Kathy Delaney, global chief creative officer at PublicisHealth; June Laffey, an executive creative director at McCann Health; and Michael Schreiber, executive creative director at DDB Health.

Pharma companies will need to move quickly to meet the end-of-January deadline for submissions, although Swanepoel said it’s possible to file late until mid-February.

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