New Lions Health awards reward creativity


Andrew Spurgeon of Langland talks about Lions Health, the newly launched healthcare communications award aimed at promoting and stimulating creativity in the field.

Cannes Lions is an annual festival of creativity in advertising held in Cannes in the south of France. This year saw the launch of Lions Health – a spinoff from the main awards dedicated to healthcare communications.

Lions Health took place 13-14 June at the famous Palais des Festivals in Cannes, with 800 people from 50 countries gathering to share, judge and celebrate creativity in healthcare communications.

Lions Health is already the world's largest healthcare communications awards: in its first year, 66 Lions were awarded from over 1,400 entries across Pharma and Health & Wellness categories, including two Grand Prix.

Pharmaphorum talks to Andrew Spurgeon, Executive Creative Director at Langland, this year's Lions Health Agency of the Year.

This was the first year for Lions Health as part of Cannes Lions. What was the focus and how broad was attendance?

Cannes Lions only has one focus, and that is to celebrate outstanding creativity. Lions Health shared that intention, making it in many ways a slimmed-down version of the main festival. Attendance reflected the entry profile, in other words there were people from all around the world, including Japan, Australia, South America, Europe and the US.

That's certainly one of Cannes' strengths, its ability to attract a truly global list of delegates.

How does it differentiate itself from other healthcare communications creativity awards?

To be honest, it's in a completely different league. The entry of Cannes Lions into the health space has, in fairly short order, set a new standard in what to expect of a health and wellness award show. They have a formidable organisation in place that is designed to keep standards high, and the south of France location allows for a focus on the work that other shows find hard to achieve. I spent the entire week either looking at work, or talking about it. That is entirely down to Cannes Lions having a tried-and-tested format that they have applied to Lions Health.


"Digital work continues to level the playing field, providing a common and cost-effective platform for brands to connect with their audiences."

Which pharmaceutical companies came out of the event well, and why?

I guess any client whose work was deemed worthy of being shortlisted should be very pleased with that achievement. On the Pharma Jury, that shortlist accounted for only 10 per cent of all entries. To then be voted up to Bronze or Silver was further recognition that these are companies that value creativity highly in their businesses. And, of course, if you were one of the Gold winners such as our client Bayer, you could rightly claim to be amongst those making the very best health communication in the world.

On a slightly separate note, clients such as AstraZeneca, Novartis, Reckitt Benckiser and Abbott made the trip, but it's fair to say that the success of the festival in years to come will be determined by how broad the uptake is from client companies. Up until a decade ago, Cannes was purely the province of agencies, but that has rapidly changed, with many consumer clients seeing a week at the festival as an essential way to keep pace with creativity and innovation. I hope we begin to see a similar pattern emerge for Lions Health.

What did you learn about where healthcare communications is going?

All of my time was dedicated to judging work. That meant I missed all of the individual speakers, many of whom were reflecting on this question. That said, the work itself provided plenty of insight into how communication in this space is evolving and shifting. Simple ideas, beautifully executed were prized by the juries and rightly rewarded. Digital work continues to level the playing field, providing a common and cost-effective platform for brands to connect with their audiences. This continues to provoke the need for high quality content, and we are seeing some outstanding film-making in the category. Further to this, there is a significant amount of not-for-profit work emerging from agencies worldwide. This is work that seeks to affect behavioural change at a community level, helping improve and save lives. That's really exciting stuff, and something Langland is actively seeking to participate in over the coming year.

As part of the broader Cannes Lions event, what did you pick up from other sectors?

I think the same rules apply. We don't differentiate between professional health and work that is more consumer oriented. What I did notice, though, was that all of the big agencies and networks are getting involved. Work was coming out of Dentsu, Leo Burnett, JWT, DDB and so on. It's good to see, especially in terms of continuing to drive the standard.

How will it change the way you approach your work?

The brilliant thing about Cannes is that you leave feeling very motivated to try harder. I personally felt energised and committed to making the best work we possibly can.

How would you like to see healthcare communications evolve by next year's event?

We look to the wider business, in terms of innovation and inspiration. So I expect our work to continue to evolve as it has done in recent years. What I do hope is that the US can take something positive away from this show and begin to persuade their clients to take a few more creative risks. It's a huge and important market, and I'd love to see those agencies make the work they really want to. I know from talking to them that the ambition is there, and I think that would be a positive evolution for the whole industry.




About the author:

Andrew Spurgeon is Executive Creative Director at Langland. Tel: +44 (0) 1753 833348

Have your say: How will this award help inspire creativity in healthcare communications?


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Linda Banks

10 July, 2014