Cannes Lions

No Top Prize for Pharma at First Cannes Health Festival

U.S. was a Minority on Shortlists, Dominated by Countries like Brazil and Japan

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Dentsu won the top prize in the health and wellness category, the Grand Prix, for its "Mother Book" at the first Cannes Lions Health festival, the new two-day show preceding the main Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity. Nobody took home a Grand Prix in pharma, the other category at Lions Health.

"We made a determined effort at the beginning not to award because it was good or OK," said Jeremy Perrott, pharma jury president and global creative director for McCann Health. "That's the reason there's no grand prix in pharma. We don't believe we're quite there yet."

Lions Health opened its doors for the first time to over 800 delegates from more than 50 countries. So for the winner in the wellness category, being the first and only at Cannes Health to win the top prize is an added bonus.

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What is is: The winning wellness campaign, "Mother Book," was created by Dentsu Nagoya to promote Kishokai's Bell-Net Obstetrics product. At the crux of the campaign was a special book for expectant mothers. A small bump inside book seemed to physically grow as the mothers themselves grew and turned the pages. The campaign encouraged mothers to write their personal feelings on the pages and consider the book a gift to their children.

Why it won: "There were wonderful pieces of work we looked at about doing good for the world and the masses," said Kathy Delaney, president of the health and wellness jury and global chief creative officer at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness. "The piece we landed upon is very small almost. It's very individual and exquisitely crafted. It's about impacting an individual person's life."

The jury: 25 jury members judged 1,423 Lions Health entries. The pharma jury shortlisted 66 pieces of work from 517 entries. The health and wellness jury shortlisted 142 campaigns from 906 entries.

The deliberation: For health and wellness, the plethora of good work kept the jurors deliberating until 11:30 PM. "We had an epiphany toward the end of the evening," said Ms. Delaney. "What we do is for betterment of humanity, but that starts with a human being."

In the pharma category, although there was good work, and much of it included digital components, the jurors found that there was "a lot of utility but not so much beauty."

"Even if there was something with a usefulness, it didn't meet the standard of being beautifully designed so we realized it had to come off the table," said Andrew Spurgeon, a pharma juror and exec creative director at Langland.

Hot topic at the press conference: Regulation surrounding healthcare advertising varies from country to country, and it was evident from the shortlists and conversation at the press conference that creativity in the industry varies by geography as well. The U.S.'s presence on the shortlist was short indeed, with only 13 contenders for health and wellness and 11 for pharma. The U.S. did, however, win one Gold Lion in the pharma category for "Mind Your Meds," a campaign for Partnership at, created by Hill Holliday. The other four went to the U.K., with three, and Australia, with one.

Japan dominated in health and wellness, taking home six out of ten Gold Lions. All of its awards went to different iterations of the "Batting Practice" campaign from advertiser Murata Kampo Chinese Herbal Medicine for its Baika Gofuku Gan product, and various Dentsu offices.

"There are many lessons to be learned," said Ms. Delaney. "The bar was incredibly high. Many people entered things because they didn't know that and probably thought it's a new festival, I'll send what I have and hope for the best. Next year will be a different year even for us. What we show tonight will set the bar."

Grand Prix for Good: Lions Health also teamed up with the United Nations Foundation to present a Grand Prix for Good award to honor the best entry for a charity, public service or non-governmental organization.

The winner was Cancer Tweets, a campaign created by Leo Burnett in Bogota Colombia for the League Against Cancer. To get people to pay attention to symptoms that could save their lives, the team created seven Twitter accounts for the most lethal types of cancer and encouraged sharing and engagement throughout the process. "They had a remarkable campaign with a low budget," said Kathy Calvin, president and CEO of the United Nations Foundation.

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