What Roared at Lions Health? A Look at the Winning Campaigns

June 20, 2015

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Last night, the Health Lions were handed out for just the second year. Much of the work can be viewed on the Cannes site. There are a few common themes, I thought, that tied many of the winners together.

The best work went well beyond clever campaigns for drugs or traditional disease awareness efforts. Almost universally, the work that was recognized last night contributed a real solution to the problem it set out to address.

Much of it advanced product design, certainly not an expertise typically thought to be in held by communications and advertising functions. Some of it found new ways to address long-standing health issues, deeply rooted in every corner of the globe. Some it broke taboos or repurposed existing stigmas to make positive progress. It was creative, yes, but often simple as well as bold. Big budgets certainly weren’t imperative.

A few examples:

Attempting to address an iodine deficiency in Indian woman, Grey Group and Talwar Traders went far beyond the typical education efforts. They developed a Bindi, the red dot worn by women across India on their foreheads, that could infuse a supplement of iodine into its wearer. In attempting to raise awareness around a health challenge, they helped develop a product that could solve it. The campaign won a Silver Lion in Health and Wellness.

Similarly, faced with iron deficiencies in Cambodia, Memac Ogilvy and Geometry came up with a beautifully simple solution. After learning that cooking with a small block of iron would give people the iron they needed, the team went further. They created a small iron fish – fish being a symbol of good luck in the culture – to help convince families to use the iron as they cooked. The work won a Gold Lion last night.

Maybe the most inspiring example came from Mexico. Leo Burnett Mexico and Proctor and Gamble set out to address the issue of female reproductive health in indigenous populations in the country. The biggest challenge they faced was the fact that the indigenous languages didn’t have words for female reproductive parts. They brought together sociologists, linguists and women from the community and actually created words that the women could use with their daughters, mothers and sisters in talking about their sexual health. They published and passed out books of the new words. “Intimate words” won a Grand Prix.

It’s too easy to say something is outside our purview as communicators. It’s also lazy. We can, as the best work last night proves, bring our clients big ideas that include real solutions to the problems they face as a business. We can drive business decisions, product design and user experience and empower our clients to lead the company to new, unexpected places. We just can’t wait for permission.