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Lions Health: day one round-up

Creativity and innovation in healthcare communications

created on Sunday 18 Jun 2017

 
Lions Health kicked off its fourth year to a packed out auditorium at Palais des Festivals in Cannes, just before the big event itself, to bring together professionals from across healthcare and pharma communications.


The first session took place on the Inspiration Stage, called ‘Fighting for Your Creative Life’, which was hosted by global chief creative officer for McCann Health, Jeremy Perrott. We were introduced to two dynamic and mould-breaking creative artists by the name of Mike Massimino, a former NASA astronaut, and Jonty Toosey, a commercial director, to tell us how they worked within the constraints of their industries and fought for their own personal creative lives to bring their childhood dreams to real life accomplishments.

While the pair have very distinctive yet dissimilar stories, they had one thing in common: they are creative artists who have followed their lifelong passions to succeed in highly competitive industries to make their dreams a reality. Their talks, which kept a packed room engaged for a full hour during the opening seminar, not only shed light on how they achieved childhood desires, but offered an insight into how we must challenge our realities and be the “agitators of truth” in order to find success in a competitive landscape.
 
Another session, held on the Health in Action stage, saw Professor Shafi Ahmed, surgeon of London Royal Hospital and St Bartholomew’s, talk up his virtual reality operation company Medical Realities, of which he is the co-founder. Attendees were spilling out of the sides and sitting on the floor around the stage, and it’s hardly surprising. Ahmed is a bit of a health tech hero. In April 2015 he performed the world’s first virtual reality operation, recorded and streamed live in 360 degrees to more than 55,000 people across the world, watching on YouTube. But today, Ahmed showed off his latest innovation: using Microsoft HoloLens to train medical students, which he claims is “going to change the world”. 


The world famous surgeon stresses that without innovation, and by just accepting health care now as the way it’s always been, it will never improve. "Training using social media means people around world using low cost tech can access live operations and training."

Just before lunch, Andrew Mackenzie – CMO for UnitedHealthcare – took the podium on the Health in Focus stage where not a single seat in the house was left without a bum on. Mackenzie told us the story of the brand work behind his company, which created commercials that went viral across the States. 

 “The most important thing for me in communicating that we have a great idea (but having a tough time getting it through the organisation) was to not think of the bosses as the enemy, just try to get them to say yes and put them in your shoes,” he said. “If we lose, they lose.” 

Mackenzie had an ad video concept on his iPad and chased down hundreds of the company’s leaders to show them the ads for sign off. He told the audience how he even ran down the escalator the wrong way to get in front of his CEO. 

“It paid off because they see enthusiasm and start to envision what it would be like in the market place.” The lesson here is that making a successful ad is all about risk. Risk as well as research and enthusiasm is important to convince your peers that making a great ad isn’t about following what other brands are doing, but by breaking away and taking big risks in order to receive the greatest rewards.
The afternoon at Lions Health saw Digital media and broadcasting company Vice Media and women’s health tech company Chiaro join Aesop to talk about the ‘Importance of Embracing the Darkside’. The session’s talks explored how brands need to embrace the negative and bad side of a story in order to be successful storytellers and harness the power of narrative. To do this, the brand storytellers need to express the importance of being more open when it comes to talking about controversial or embarrassing subjects such as our bodies, or the bad side of health, such as illnesses. We can’t shy away from a subject because it’s taboo. We must embrace what is usually the unmentionable because, as Nick Dutnall, Board Director of Health at Aesop explains, a healthy story needs conflict, and without it there is no story.
 
The last Lions Health session of the day took place at the Inspiration Stage, exploring the topic of a cure for reputation with pharmaceutical company Pfizer’s Senior Director of Reputation Communications, Dana Gandsman alongside the firm’s Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Ed Harnaga. Here we learned that any brand’s reputation, no matter how bad – yes even those belonging to the pharma industry - can make a U-turn if a good ad campaign is able to connect with audiences, is more human and as Harnaga, explained “has a soul”. 

 

Talks and work from Cannes Lions 2017 will be availale on the Cannes Lions Player.

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