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Cannes 2016

The Changing Face of Cannes – A Healthy Change

BBDO New York , 2 years, 4 months ago

John Osborn, President & CEO, BBDO New York, on Lions Health, the Glass Lion, Young Guns, innovation, clients in Cannes and all-round creativity

The Changing Face of Cannes – A Healthy Change

Last year, Cannes introduced Lions Health, designed to celebrate creative excellence in healthcare advertising. In its inaugural year, Lions Health took place outside of Festival Week and results did not count towards Festival totals or point standings. 

Fast forward one year, and the idea of Lions Health was so well received, it will now count towards an agency, network or holding company’s overall creative standing. And it should. It’s time that healthcare advertising and communications take its rightful place at the grown-up table and break from the ghetto of mediocrity long propagated by agencies not giving it proper recognition. Here at BBDO, we have seen that healthcare work matters. It’s purposeful. It’s an arena where you can achieve great work. An arena in which people want to work, and where careers can flourish. It’s work that matters. And it’s the fastest area of growth in our agency.

Lions Health is just one example of changes taking place at Cannes – and for the better. Cannes is a celebration of creativity. Even the name of the Festival has been changed to acknowledge this focus – The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. 

- Clients attend because they more and more understand that creativity drives business success.

- Creatives attend to be inspired.

- Sponsors line up to associate themselves with creativity.

The end result is depth, breadth and quality of work that gets better and better every year.

That’s why I’m so supportive of the new Lions Health. By focusing on excellence in healthcare advertising creativity, the likelihood is that this body of work will, in turn, get better and better each year. In fact, it is my belief that by focusing on Lions Health, Cannes will help do for healthcare advertising what has been done to b-to-b advertising. Corporate work has gotten so much better because advertisers and their agencies recognized that b-to-b audiences are people, too (and not just faceless businesses). The best advertising connects with its audience via emotional storytelling. 

I’m looking forward to seeing more of that in healthcare advertising this year, next year and the year after that.

Another change for the better: the Glass Lion. Again, this is work that has purpose and has shown to not only create conversation, but spur action and change, for the better. 

We applaud the increased recognition Cannes is placing on our so-called Young Guns. Young talent is the future of our industry. We need them. We need to keep them. And recognizing them is certainly a good step in this direction.

I really like the new Innovation Lions. It’s another way to demonstrate the quality of thinking and ‘knowledge capital’ that agencies bring to their clients. Thinking that deserves to be compensated, accordingly. After all, innovation is the rocket fuel for all of our businesses.

While this next point is a source of debate, I love that more clients are attending Cannes. It means more marketers are recognizing the contribution that creativity can make to their businesses – how it can become an economic multiplier. We already know that the most awarded work can be up to 11 times more effective in the market. Now, more and more clients know that, too.

And finally, the fact that a creative publication like Little Black Book would welcome a submission from a ‘suit’ like me tells me how far Cannes has come. Creativity is no longer defined by a title. It’s defined by a way of thinking… a festival of creativity…

…which is something I hope to personally advance in a talk we will be giving on Friday, June 19th titled, ‘Why Pharma Hates Advertising.  And Why Advertising Hates Pharma.’

They don’t.

But that’s the perception we need to change.

A healthy change for the better thanks to being afforded a platform to share it in Cannes.


John Osborn is President & CEO at BBDO New York