Last year was the inaugural Lions Health festival of creativity in healthcare. The very fact that it even happened is arguably a surprising success in itself yet our creative confidence, as an industry, felt shaky. This year the mood was altogether different. The entries had doubled, clients were getting in on the act and the jury were truly inspired and challenged by ideas that were brilliant feats of innovation and creativity.
Festival speakers spoke of empowered patient-centricity and connected health at the speed of life – the future powered by wellness. The brilliantly galvanising This Girl Can—a major campaign in both Lions Health and Cannes Lions—was firmly rooted in health and wellness. It felt good to be in the healthcare industry.
However, as the only PR judge in a healthcare jury of thirty it felt a bit lonely. Healthcare PR at Lions Health, I would suggest, is where PR was at in Cannes Lions a decade ago.
In the Health & Wellness section of the awards there was sadly only one entry truly generated by a PR agency. The rest were PR exploitations of ATL campaigns. In a festival celebrating creativity, we shouldn’t be handing out awards for great tactical exploitation alone but for the origination of the idea. Or at least a creative, smart build on an another discipline’s idea.
What I did see was a lot of great work that could (and I know it does exist in bucket loads) have been created by a PR team. The Nivea Doll that was designed to teach kids the power of sunblock and Hairfest, the first festival where the ticket is your hair to make wigs for kids with cancer are just two of many.
On the up side, ultimately the opportunity is there for the taking. In the game of Hungry Hippos that is today’s cross-agency meeting, PR has every opportunity and the capability to create the central ‘idea’.
The subject of PR and Cannes Lions is complex, much debated but in essence we need to enter more work into Lion’s Health and Lions Health need to build an infrastructure so it can be fairly judged – that means more than one PR person in a room full of Mad Men.
Rebecca Rhodes is global creative director at Virgo Health