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Cannes Lions

Will Lions Health Prove that Healthcare Marketers are Creative, Once and For All?

Inaugural Cannes Lions Health Festival Sets High Bar for Healthcare Creative

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It's no secret that health and wellness marketing have been underrepresented in our industry's award shows. Despite the fact that health and wellness are no longer limited to healthcare plans and pharmaceuticals -- our category now supports healthier food options at chain restaurants, mattress brands committed to improving the quality of our sleep, and yoga studios promoting a healthy mind and body -- we are still often marginalized as a niche category responsible for less creative work.

This year's inaugural Cannes Lions Health festival, which celebrates creative communications in healthcare and wellness, will shine a light on the important and innovative work being done in our category.

I have worked in all areas of advertising in my career and I can't imagine another category that has more of an impact on the lives of consumers than health and wellness. We market around the human condition with a sense of purpose, knowing that our work can result in something meaningful for consumers today who have never been more proactive and focused on their health and well being. Nielsen's recent Health and Wellness survey found that more than 70 percent of Americans are trying to become healthier or maintain their current health, and Apple's new iOS 8 Healthbook and Healthkit prove that wellness is a doctrine being embraced by millions.

As president of the health and wellness jury at Lions Health, I have been tasked with setting the bar for creativity in marketing campaigns that engage the growing population of health-conscious consumers. In the judging room, we will consider five key criteria to define what makes a winning health and wellness campaign:

Is there innovative engagement via digital? Whether building a new health and wellness platform or engaging mobile to track and support healthy behaviors, some of the most strategic uses of digital and mobile are happening in our category. I am especially excited to see new forms of mobile engagement, with the 18% increase in the use of health or fitness smartphone apps pointing to a real desire from consumers to improve their health through mobile. Wearable tech is an area where marketers can have true impact, as these devices are proving to be digital tools that actually drive behavior: 62% of fitness-band owners use their device daily to track mileage and calories burned and monitor their heart rate.

Is there strategic use of consumer insights? Our category has led the way in understanding human behavior. Why does a patient neglect to take heart medicine? What mental and lifestyle roadblocks prevent us from implementing long-lasting physical fitness habits? We have long understood how the right type of research leads to smart communications that trigger action, and I know we'll see the best examples of strategic consumer insights in the Lions Health judging room.

Are you being transparent and authentic? Are you promoting healthy living in an authentic way or just attaching your brand to the wellness trend? Brands across the spectrum, from Coke to Lululemon, are leveraging wellness, but if the message doesn't feel authentic or organically fit into consumers' lives, it won't be effective in this age of transparency. The wellness message has to genuinely match the brand's values and purpose. The snake-oil days are over.

Have you harnessed the power of social media? Health and wellness is the perfect area for engaging social media. An online group can help support weight-loss goals and Pinterest communities spread healthy recipes and wellness advice. Successfully tapping into the power of the crowd will help a marketing campaign rise to the top of the Lions pile.

Is there a sense of purpose in the campaign and did these marketing campaigns meet their obligation to the consumer? Our job as health and wellness marketers is to assist the consumer's desire for a more healthy life. Whether or not a marketing plan helps drive positive action will be one of the main lens through which we will judge the entries.

At Cannes, we will set the highest standards of judging in order to reflect the highest honor that is found in an award as legendary as the Lions. In doing so, we will prove that around the world our field is producing work that is as innovative and engaging as anything out there. I am excited to see what the health and wellness global community has to offer.

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