Cannes 2019: Bensimon, Edelman win Bronze in Health and Pharma

The wins in the festival's two Health categories are among the first for Canada.

A pair of Canadian agencies were among those that kicked off Cannes Lions by taking home awards in the festival’s two Health categories.

While Canadian agencies had 10 shortlist mentions in the Health & Wellness category, Bensimon Byrne was the only one to bring home Lions, picking up a Bronze for White Ribbon’s toxic masculinity-confronting “Boys Don’t Cry” and another Bronze for Casey House’s HIV stigma-fighting “The Healing House.”

Health & Wellness Lions jury president Shaheed Peera, global ECD at Publicis LifeBrands, Publicis Resolute and Real Science, said one of the main things his jury was looking to award was work that was scalable and could be realistically deployed to outside markets.

That kind of idea was embodied in the Grand Prix in Health & Wellness, which went to McCann Tel Aviv for “ThisAbles.” Created for IKEA, the campaign aimed to take the retailer’s mission of “democratizing design” a step further by creating a line of accessories that could be added to its furniture in order to make it more accessible, such as helping to make sure people with cerebral palsy would be able to get up from one of its sofas. The designs were also made available online for 3D printing, helping to take the products outside of Israel.

Edelman Canada’s “Bubl Fashion” for Osteoporosis Canada, the lone Canadian campaign shortlisted in the Pharma category, also won a Bronze, one of only 11 total Lions awarded in the category. The campaign aimed to draw attention to what can often be an “invisible disease” by working with designer David Dixon to create a fashion line that incorporated bubble wrap, symbolizing how bones become more frail and prone to fractures for those with osteoporosis.

The Grand Prix in the category (the first time one has been awarded since 2016) went to “Breath of Life,” an app created by McCann Health Shanghai for GlaxoSmithKline. In China, less than 7% of people with COPD are properly diagnosed, because symptoms are often mistaken for regular signs of aging. An app that lived within popular mobile platform WeChat was created, allowing users to blow into their phone’s microphone to create a traditional Chinese blow painting, which also served as a visualization of their breathing ability and if they should be checked out for COPD.

Jury president Robin Shapiro, global president of TBWA\WorldHealth, said focusing on campaigns that “belonged” in the Pharma category (as opposed to Health & Wellness) was a main focus for the jury, which saw a great deal of non-traditional work that fell outside what had typically been seen in the highly regulated space, both of which were part of the Grand Prix winner.

This evening’s gala would have also been when the Grand Prix for Good in the two Health categories would have been awarded, but no campaign met the criteria for the award. As campaigns for non-profit and charity clients are not eligible to win the Grand Prix in their respective categories, the Grand Prix for Good (one in Health and another for the rest of the Lion categories) was created to recognize the top work for those clients; however, no non-profit work earned a Gold Lion in either Health category, and was therefore not eligible for consideration.

Rajesh Mirchandani, chief communications officer for The UN Foundation, who was meant to lead judging of the Health Grand Prix for Good, says this tells the industry a couple things.

First, it shows that “doing good” is not the purview of charities and the public sector anymore, and consumers are increasingly demanding that brands reflect their values, and in a way that isn’t hollow. Finally, he said this should potentially be taken as a sign that the Grand Prix for Good criteria may need to be recalibrated for next year, as the trend of paid clients championing causes in their work is obviously here to stay. That’s especially true when it comes to Health-related categories, where brands (even those outside of traditional health and pharma companies) are directly responding to diseases and epidemics.