How Graham Mills does Cannes

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Graham Mills is global chief creative officer at Publicis Health. This year he is serving on the Pharma Lions jury. 


What is one takeaway from last year's festival that you incorporated into your work at Digitas Health last year?

Mills: It's the poor showing in professional brand advertising. We've been looking for ways to set a new bar for professional work and hopefully start to see some Lions awarded in the HCP space.

This year, you are a judge. I've heard rumors the judges are sequestered in the basement of the Palais. How are you preparing for the days upon days of judging?

Mills: I'm going to stop by one of the marvelous macaron shops, L'Atelier Jean-Luc Pele Chocolat Macaron, on the way to the Palais each day to keep my blood sugar topped off and perhaps sharing will help me make new friends on the jury.

Last year everyone talked about virtual reality and emotional storytelling. What do you expect to be the talk of Cannes this year?

Mills: This year I expect to hear a lot about artificial intelligence and voice-activated AI, on the heels of the Amazon Alexa WebMD mashup, and how that will change how people talk about and think about medicine, literally and figuratively.

There are still not many pharma executives who attend the festival. Is this a good or bad thing in your opinion?

Mills: It is unfortunate. People need to know what's happening elsewhere in the world. In the U.S., we are used to a certain level of innovation. Elsewhere we see different types of creativity that come from completely different places. Seeing what happens around the world can help you see possibilities in a different way and transform how you look at your own work.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone attending Cannes for the first time?

Mills: Look at everything. Go look at every piece of work you can see. Go and really understand the thinking and take it away with you. Cannes to me is a creative gift. You get to see how things work all around the world with different cultures, different emphasizes. It's an extraordinary opportunity to rewire your brain. Don't just sit at a bar!

That said, Gutter Bar, the Carlton Terrace, or the Majestic?

Mills: Gutter Bar.

This Q&A has been edited and condensed. 

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