Pharma Marketing

Cannes Lions Health 2014: is pharma advertising so bad?

Cannes Lions Health 2014 festival was supposed to be the world’s first contest of creativity in healthcare and pharma advertising. Made by advertising agencies and for advertising agencies, Lions Health could not find a grand prix winner in Cannes this year. Does it prove lack of creativity, or rather that the whole concept of advertising in the healthcare industry is wrong?
No grand prix of Cannes Lions Health 2014 was awarded. A Jury made only from the advertising agencies, focus on vague “creativity” and not measurable effects or validity of choice. From K-message perspective it is all failed, with the only exception of a Grand Prix for Good award given to Colombian League Against Cancer for its Cancer Tweets campaign.
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Cancer Tweets

Target: Disease Awareness Social Media Campaign

Name Company Position
Fernando Hernandez Leo Burnett Colombiana General Creative Director
Mauricio Sarmiento Leo Burnett Colombiana General Creative Director
Carlos Oviedo Leo Burnett Colombiana Creative Director
Alexis Ospina Leo Burnett Colombiana Creative Director
Rafael Reina Leo Burnett Colombiana Creative Director
Andres Salamanca Leo Burnett Colombiana Copywriter
Alexis Ospina Leo Burnett Colombiana Copywriter
Andres Lopez Leo Burnett Colombiana Art Director
Rafael Reina Leo Burnett Colombiana Art Director
Julian Velez Leo Burnett Colombiana Art Director
Alejandra Melo Leo Burnett Colombiana Community Manager
Camilo Mendivelso Leo Burnett Colombiana Community Manager
Camilo Torres Leo Burnett Colombiana Community Manager
Cesar Peralta Leo Burnett Colombiana Community Manager
Carlos Leguizamon Leo Burnett Colombiana Community Manager
Carlos Oviedo Leo Burnett Colombiana Community Manager
Andres Salamanca Leo Burnett Colombiana Community Manager
Maicol Vera Leo Burnett Colombiana Web Designer
Natalia Valencia Leo Burnett Colombiana Account Director

Campaign Description:

A cancer that follows you virtually. Cancer is a silent disease, every year millions of people die for ignoring their symptoms. That’s why we created Cancertweets, an act that make people feel what it is like to have cancer and how easy is to ignore it. We created 7 Twitter accounts that represented 7 types of cancer and ‘spread out’ the virtual cancer throughout thousands of accounts. Virtual cancer acted as a real cancer: at first, followed silently. Then, started to manifest subtle; finally expressed its symptoms directly. Those who detected on time, virtual cancer stopped following them. Those who ignored it, received a final message.

Unfortunately other campaigns did not bring anything innovative, striking or at least, very efficient in terms of communication, as you can see for yourself clicking at the entries list. At K-message we were not even disappointed, as this whole concept seems bit weird to us. Take a look at the President of the Jury explaining why no GrandPrix was awarded:

From our perspective it is not about “setting the bar” too high. Pharma marketing is just different. We talk about serious issues, we should base our communication on scientifically proven statements. The idea of “promoting” a pharmaceutical product to patients is from the very beginning dangerous and thus forbidden in most of the world. For the healthcare professionals, we should bear in mind that any additional noise may adversely impact their decisions and, in effect, patients well-being. Human brain while making decision can process 5 to 6 factors. In medicine there are usually hundreds of factors to be taken into account. Do we really need to produce more of it? Or shall we rather focus on making the process easier to congest, by making tools for better processing the scientific information about our products and diseases to be treated? .
Saying that, feel free to take a look at the Cannes Lions Health 2014  Gold Lions awarded campaigns. While they are not worth a Grand Prix, they are well executed. Our pick from those three would be Mind Your Meds. It puts digital tactics at the core, provides not only emotional message but also valuable information.
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Cate Jackson

Brand: Simponi – Janssen
Target: Promotional Communication to the Healthcare Professional: New Product Launch

Name Company Position
June Laffey Mccann Health Executive Creative Director
Thomas Dirnberger Mccann Health Art Director
Kate Chisnall Mccann Health Art Director
Bob Johnson Mccann Health Art Director
Sophy Myer Mccann Health Account Director
Dick Sweeney Louis/Co Photographer
Glenn Edwards Castirian Editor
Tristan Coelho Composer/Produce

Campaign Description:

When you treat RA with Simponi, it only takes about ten minutes, once a month. This means Simponi is the treatment you hardly even notice. Great news when often RA is burden enough to a patient. We wanted to capture the non-invasive nature of Simponi in our creative. So we set out to capture a month of a Simponi patient on film and show how non-invasive it is. Literally. This film features a typical RA person – female between 50 and 60. It shows hundreds of moments (selected from over 10,000 shots captured by our photographer) that represent a month in the life of a Simponi patient, Cate Jackson. Amongst the hundreds of shots, there is only one that features Cate injecting herself with Simponi. The shots are run together so quickly in the film, it is near impossible to spot the moment that treatment takes place. This technique/idea highlights the fact that Simponi is very non-invasive, so you’ll hardly notice. After watching a collage of her life, a super tells us in the many shots/moments we just watched only one featured Simponi. The super then challenges: “Bet you hardly even noticed. Neither did Cate Jackson.”

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True Cost

[tabs type=”horizontal”][tabs_head][tab_title]Shampoo[/tab_title][tab_title]Tea[/tab_title][tab_title]Toothbrush[/tab_title][/tabs_head][tab]Bayer, Sativex: “True Cost” Campaign “Shampoo”

True Cost - shampoo - sativex
True Cost – Shampoo – Sativex

[/tab][tab]Bayer, Sativex: “True Cost” Campaign “Tea”
True Cost - Tea - sativex
True Cost – Tea – Sativex

[/tab][tab]Bayer, Sativex: “True Cost” Campaign “Toothbrush”
True Cost - Toothbrush - sativex
True Cost – Toothbrush – Sativex

Brand: Sativex – Bayer
Target: Promotional Communication to the Healthcare Professional: Brand Re-appraisal campaign

Name Company Position
Andrew Spurgeon Langland Executive Creative Director
Andrew Morley Langland Art Director
Harry Yeates Langland Copywriter
Andrew Morley Langland Designer/Digital Designer
Whitney Andrews Langland Senior Account Director
Elizabeth Chambers Langland Group Account Director
Graham Robinson Langland Account Manager
Claire Martin Langland Art Buyer
Jessica Stonell Langland Art Worker

Campaign Description:

Spasticity is a symptom that develops late in the course of multiple sclerosis (MS), causing muscle spasm, weakness and stiffness. Patients lose their independence and are forced to rely on family members and carers to accomplish basic tasks. The limited treatment options have significant side effects, or require an implanted pump.
Sativex is a novel treatment developed from particular strains of cannabis that significantly improves symptoms of spasticity in responders. Because it is delivered as an oral spray, patients can adjust their dose as and when they need to. However, HCPs have been equivocal about its value, and concerned about its cost.
To drive re-appraisal of the brand among prescribers, we used the unifying idea of ‘cost’ to bring together the effect of MS spasticity on patients with its broader social impact and the financial realities, increasing their motivation to gain budget approval for Sativex.

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Mind Your Meds

The Medicine Abuse Project - Mind Your Meds
The Medicine Abuse Project – Mind Your Meds

Brand: MEDICINE ABUSE PROJECT – Partnership at
Target: Communications to Non-Healthcare Professionals

Eric Stoltz Disorderly Conduct Director
Lance Jensen Hill Holliday Chief Creative Officer
Scott Woolwine Hill Holliday Designer/Animator
Kevin Daley Hill Holliday Group Creative Director/Art Director
Trish Fuller Whitehouse Post Editor
Tim Cawley Hill Holliday Creative Director/Copywriter
Alejandra Alarcon Disorderly Conduct Producer/Post Producer
Crash Disorderly Conduct Cinematographer
Amy Hardcastle Hill Holliday Account Team
Jenn Dodds Hill Holliday Project Manager

Campaign Description:

Teen medicine abuse is a pervasive and devastating problem, with one in four teens admitting to using a prescription drug to get high or change their mood. Most teens who report medicine abuse say they get those medications from their family or friends. The Medicine Abuse Project is a multi-year effort led by The Partnership at and is designed to help combat this public health crisis deemed an “epidemic” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Medicine Abuse Project aims to help educate parents, teens and the public about the dangers of medicine abuse and unite parents, educators, health care providers, coaches, government officials, law enforcement officers and other partners to help save lives.

Click for the full list of Cannes Lions Health contenders and awards in Pharma category.