Awarding the best work in pharma is only a few months away. As agencies begin scrambling to submit work for this year’s Pharma Lions, last year’s Pharma Lions jury president Robin Shaprio and this year’s jury president Anne de Schweinitz offered tips for standing out in the judging process.
Shapiro and de Schweinitz spoke at a Lions Health event in New York on Wednesday along with Cannes Lions staffers. The talks covered trends in pharma campaigns, how agencies can make entries stand out and how judges evaluate the work.
Shapiro, global president of TBWA\WorldHealth, discussed awarding the first Pharma Grand Prix in three years at the 2019 festival. She said she was “very lucky” to be part of the jury that awarded Breath of Life the Grand Prix last year.
“This industry deserves a Grand Prix,” she said. “For a while, there was a little bit of beating ourselves up about the quality of the work. That it doesn’t move the ball forward in our industry, all it does is say shame on us because we’re not capable of delivering at this level. But that doesn’t encourage great people to come work with us. It did take some discussion in the jury room and it’s much easier to not award a Grand Prix. It was a great move to award it and be willing to stand up and say this [work is] of the caliber and it deserves it.”
De Schweinitz, global managing director of healthcare at FleishmanHillard, discussed the importance of showing ROI and the increase in purpose driven work for pharma entries. She stressed the idea of showing judges the “human impact” of a campaign, even if it’s a small number.
“When I see something that says it had so many impressions or was downloaded this number of times, at least it is showing direction of movement in exposure or action,” de Schweinitz said. “Anytime you can get to a number of people who were impacted, the story can be what did those people do, no matter how small the number, and how did the campaign improve their health. It helps to see a more human story at the end of it.”
She also said agencies should put their campaigns into regulatory context in their submissions or case study videos. Jury members come from all over the world and may not be very familiar with the limits on U.S. pharma advertising compared to other countries.
The two jury presidents discussed how pharma work is changing. Campaigns are becoming more purpose driven and digital. “It’s not just about an ad,” de Schweinitz said, campaigns are better integrated into cultural context and patient engagement than ever.
“Pharma brands and clients are doing purpose driven work and that’s being awarded,” Shapiro said. “There is less of that classic work happening. A lot of clients are moving away from broadcast and taking ideas into digital and creative films. The nature of the campaign, in the classic word, is changing. We’re seeing more activations that are event-based or social and digital. It’s an evolution in our business that’s reflected in the jury room.”