Agency leaders share advice on how to navigate Lions Health

Rich Levy, chief creative officer, FCB Health
Rich Levy, chief creative officer, FCB Health

Get plenty of sleep before you go. Make sure you take time to see as many award entries as you can. Get to know other people. Go the sessions and engage with the speakers.

That's just some of the advice doled out by agency executives who have previously made the trip to the south of France to attend the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Last year marked the launch of the Lions Health festival, which focuses solely on pharma, healthcare and health brands and creativity. The event is held two days before the broader Cannes Lion festival.

This year is the first time that John Osborn, president and CEO of BBDO New York, will attend Lions Health, where he will share the stage with Quita Highsmith, Genentech's senior director of Tamiflu, on Friday for what is perhaps one of the festival's best-named sessions, “Why pharma hates advertising, and why advertising hates pharma.”

Osborn said that the addition of Lions Health to the Cannes festivals is “significant because healthcare advertising is the fastest area of growth for our company.”

He said he expects the festival to provide several opportunities, such as identifying new best practices among other award entries, serving as a source of creative inspiration, notably among millennial employees who are driven by purpose-based work that is common in healthcare, and encouraging creativity among clients.

“More clients are seeing that creativity is an economic multiplier,” Osborn said. “They want to be associated with creativity.”

Rich Levy, FCB Health's chief creative officer and a 2015 health & wellness Lions juror, said he expects to see more entries using much simpler messages at this year's event. (The festival also announced last week that Lions entries increased 30% in 2015, compared to the year before.)

His strategy this year is to bring as many junior art directors and copywriters to the event as possible. “Here are the people at the beginning of their careers,” Levy said. “Now they will know what the best looks like.”

Other advice from veteran attendees? “Make sure you've got a plan,” said Rebecca Rhodes, global executive creative director at Virgo Health and also a judge on this year's health and wellness jury. “Don't be distracted by the rosé and the beach.”

Looking for more Cannes Lion coverage? Here you'll find daily news of the latest trends, themes and chatter around creativity in healthcare, live from the south of France during the two-day festival.