Lions Health Speaks the Truth

Having been back from Cannes for over a week, I have to say that I’m struck by how ironic it is that the CEOs of two huge network agencies are questioning the value of a festival which celebrates creativity.

One of my lasting memories is being blown away by the winning work at the Lions Health awards evening. Can you place a value on that feeling? How much is it worth to be stirred so much that you’re ready to return to work and ignite your colleagues and clients with a touch of the magic that you’ve witnessed? What would you pay to watch work that moves you to tears, makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and reminds you why you love this industry?

Work like this for the charity SickKids by Canadian agency Cossette:

Or this piece for Gillette by Grey New York:

And this piece by FCB Toronto for the Canadian Down Syndrome Society:

Down Syndrome Answers – Case Study from FCB Canada on Vimeo.

Can you even begin to put a price on that? Or on the challenges posed by so many great healthcare communications experts during the festival – to fight for our creativity, to seek out truth, to pick a fight, to change people’s lives…In short it’s priceless.

But we’ve all read this week that network agencies are now questioning the value of celebrating creativity…when surely they fight day and night to prove the value of creativity to their clients. Messrs Sadoun and Sorrell – what’s the real reason for this outburst? Tech boys taking over? Media players creating content and stories that challenge the old school adland monopoly? Or are your employees just taking the piss by drinking too much rosé?

This morning I asked a colleague about recent shoot. The response was, “It was excellent. The clients were all there. Which was great because they said, ‘Now we know why it’s so expensive.'” Come on guys, we deal with this regularly. Is that why we feel that we can play the value card to Jose Papa and Ascential Events?

So, I hear you say, what did you experience at Lions Health that makes you so determined to fight its corner? Well, put simply, it boils down to 3 things:

  1. Challenge
  2. Inspiration
  3. Reinvigoration


With the subject matter we’re dealing with in the world of health and wellness, we have to raise our game. We have to find conflict in the stories we’re telling and we have to stop shying away from the truth. With no Grand Prix being offered in the Pharma world, we have to try harder.


Finally we have an industry that has stopped talking about what we can’t do due to regulatory restrictions. That symbolic change now allows us to focus on what we can do.

We can create something that has the power to save lives. We can make something that affects behaviour for good.


Being told ‘no’ on a regular basis takes its toll. Pushing the boundaries becomes tiring when sometimes it feels like you’re pushing on your own. Doing things differently makes you question if you’re the one in the wrong. Coming together. Celebrating. Sharing stories. Casting a vision. Laying down a challenge. All replenish. All build up. All make better.

So does it cost a lot to go to Cannes? I think the question should be – what’s the cost of not going?