Cannes Lions

Why Cannes Added Health Lions

Two-Day Event to Be Held Ahead of Main Fest

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The idea for Cannes Lions Health festival started, fittingly enough, with a consultation.

Two years ago, Cannes Chairman Terry Savage and McCann Health's Global Creative Chief Jeremy Perrott were discussing their respective goals. Cannes Lions was seeking opportunities to expand its festival, and McCann Health wanted a bigger stage to showcase creative work.

That sparked a number of conversations with McCann and other agencies like Ogilvy CommonHealth that led to the creation of a two-day health-awards event to be held before the weeklong ad festival. It precedes the main event to separate the health-care-ad industry, which has different creative parameters and regulatory hurdles, from other categories.

For health-care agencies and marketers, the new Lions add legitimacy to work typically only awarded at industry-specific shows. For Cannes, it's a nice alternative revenue stream. Organizers said there are 1,400 submissions from 49 countries and, at $613.00 a pop, the submissions alone are bringing in around $857,871.

Around 100 of them are from McCann, said Mr. Perrott, who is jury president for one of the two categories, pharma. (The other is health and wellness.)

"We recognized [health care] was really not as well represented in overall entries and delegate spend, and thought it was time to launch a festival that was all about the importance of creativity but looked at specific issues facing health care," said Rob Dembitz, corporate-development director for the Lions Festival.

"There's a new generation of marketing managers in health care," said Mr. Perrott. "They see opportunities to be more creative, from innovative use of technology and mobile to content engaging with patients, doctors, consumers and opinion leaders."

The festival also presents an opportunity for public-relations shops, which support a hefty portion of the highly regulated health- and pharma-marketing work, to find their footing at Cannes. Typically the main festival has been ruled by creative and media agencies with the big awards-submission budgets.

Carolyn Paul, Edelman's global managing director of health and European health practice chair, who is serving on the health and wellness jury, said it evens the playing field, since health-care budgets are typically smaller than consumer-marketing budgets.

Entrants have to be mindful of regulations, said Louise Benson, festival director for Lions Health & Eurobest. For example, some pharma campaigns and initiatives targeted at health-care professionals might not be able to present visuals with proprietary information during the awards ceremony, she said, because they are meant only to be seen by doctors.

Health Lions is also different in that it will allow entrants to submit work from as far as two years back to stoke interest and get the best work.

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