Top creative minds in the healthcare communications industry gathered under the Mediterranean sun for the 3rd time for Lions Health. The event is organized as part of Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, which is best known for its A-list celebrity speakers—this year featured Anna Wintour, Gwyneth Paltrow, Iggy Pop and Oliver Stone, to mention a few—and the advertising industry’s most prestigious awards, the Lions.
The theme of the year was “Life Changing Creativity”, and the nominated works presented were as funny, clever, moving and beautifully crafted as can be expected from players at the top of this industry. What was striking however, was that great majority of the work presented were about non-branded health advocacy campaigns and direct-to-consumers projects while prescription medicines were nearly absent from the discussion. This raises the question, what is the role of traditional advertising and communications agencies in modern medical marketing?
Branding, detailing and cool advertisement still have their place in prescription medicine marketing. However, in recent years the pharmaceutical industry has put a lot of emphasis on medical affairs, medical content marketing and real medical projects. These endeavors aim to improve care, provide medical education or produce new scientific evidence. The pharma industry needs to be a relevant partner for health care professionals at the peer-to-peer level where the winners are the brands which are able to provide the best and most professional service to the customers. Such an approach requires very different skill sets and modes of creativity than what traditional agencies have to offer.
Therefore, there is clearly room for new players, specifically those which are built on medical and scientific expertise with a touch of creativity, rather than vice versa.
It is obvious that the landscape of healthcare communication is changing fast and that both creative and scientific minds are needed for the best results. Medical professionals have a major role even in the work that is closest to home for creative agencies. We heard an agreement from Amit and Praful Akali of Medulla Communications, which was awarded ‘Healthcare agency of the year’, who emphasized that ”Medicals help the creative people to become more creative”.