Cannes Lions

An 'eye language' for paralyzed people wins Cannes Health Grand Prix for Good

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A campaign described by one jury president as a kind of "cure for paralysis" has won the Health Grand Prix for Good at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, which began presenting its awards on Monday.

"Blink to Speak" is an "eye language" created by TBWA/India for the NeuroGen Brain & Spine Institute and the nonprofit Asha Ek Hope Foundation to help people with paralysis communicate.

NeuroGen and Asha Ek Hope, both based in Mumbai, say they distributed 10,000 copies of a guide to the language and made it available as an e-book.

"It's creating a new language," said Rajesh Mirchandani, jury president and chief communications officer at the United Nations Foundation, during a briefing with reporters to discuss the winning work. More important, he said, it transcends its particular origin and can be used around the world.

No top prize in Pharma (again)

"Blink to Speak" was the only entry that would have had a shot at a Grand Prix in the pharma category, according to Rich Levy, chief creative officer at FCB Health, president of the Pharma jury and the one who framed the eye language as a kind of "cure" for paralysis. But it was a pro bono effort, meaning it wasn't eligible for the grand prix in Pharma or the Health & Wellness category, he said.

That meant Pharma once again went without a grand prix, the top honor in any category at Cannes Lions. The category also went without a grand prix in 2017 and 2014.

"Part of our jury's commitment was to do Pharma right," Levy said. "We wanted to award work that was both life-changing and creative." Plenty of entries were one or the other in their estimation, but "Blink to Speak" was the one that Pharma jurors felt strongly was both. They awarded it a Gold Lion in its category.

Major drug marketers haven't always permitted their agencies to enter their campaigns in awards shows. But the pharma bracket is seeing more and better entries by traditional pharmaceutical marketers, according to Levy, who said he was proud that the shortlist included some of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. "That's a huge improvement over years past," he said.

Health & Wellness

In Health & Wellness, the grand prix went to "Corazón," a 48-minute film about organ donation for Montefiore hospital by John X Hannes USA. A partnership with Tribeca Film Festival yielded four screenings there before the film became available online. It made its tagline, "Give Your Heart," a more literal call to action by urging people to register with Donate Life America in under 15 seconds, starting by pressing their phones to their hearts.

"Corazón" was the work that clearly met the jury's five criteria for a grand prix, according to Jury President R. John Fidelino: raising the profile of health and wellness, exploring how to push the category forward, technical precision, responsibility, and fusing health and wellness into everyday lives.

Getting the client, a health system, to commit to such an ambitious project was part of what impressed the jurors, said Fidelino, executive creative director at InterbrandHealth. "It shows that the client actually is able to improve or advance their reputation while calling attention to a significant health issue," he said.

But its accuracy was also essential, he added, citing the role of an actual surgeon on-screen in the film. "It's very authentic," he said. "Heath and wellness, as well as pharma, needs to be precise to be credible."

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