Lionhearted Festival season 2020 – part 1

Cannes Lions festival flag

It’s festival season! Nope, not standing unshowered in a field listening to an obscure band you claim to know, rather sat, fragrant in the South of France, listening to industry leaders and some of the most talented creatives in the world.

Of course, it’s Cannes Lions. 

But this year something is very different. No sunburn, no networking, no freebies from vast corporations trying desperately to impress agency folk. Lions has gone online. 

Cannes Lions Live Talk 2020

For Verve, Lions Health is obviously the big pull each time. Sadly, and ironically during a global health crisis, Lions Health seems to be one area dropped this year. 

It’s still an impressive programme. Talks from big names and companies definitely worth hearing from, with a lot of insights that can be translated to our sector.  Thankfully the talks are still online… I’ve not yet made it through everything, and they’re still adding more! Some talks had obviously been put together by companies as a knee-jerk reaction to not being able to self-promote on the Croisette, but there was still a good showing of valuable info.  

Unsurprisingly there were two main focusses this year. Firstly, activism and changing the industry (and all industries) for the better in light of the issues raised by the Black Lives Matter movement. And of course, how the world is dealing with and is going to emerge post-COVID. 


There was talk of health buried away in a few sessions, but it was good to see the industry represented by GSK. It was interesting to hear how they have recategorised their consumer health portfolio in reaction to the crisis, classifying their products based on customers’ buying needs during lockdown.

While some organisations have opted to ‘go dark’, others have tailored their messages and communications to be relevant to lockdown. GSK aren’t showing dentists in practice for their oral health products, and Voltarol is focussed on people exercising at home. A study, covered by Vivendi, showed that most people have wanted to focus on their health during lockdown and have vowed to continue to do so once lockdown is over, with a good proportion taking up home-based sport. 

A number of talks reiterated how fortunate we are as health communicators. Ours is one of the most powerfully emotive topics you can talk about and emotions are the most effective communication tool. Perhaps, with this being pointed out on such a wide platform, it will attract even more creative talent to our industry.

Heart at the heart

Big data, technology and algorithms are always a favourite topic, but they mean nothing if they can’t be translated into emotive content. In their stylish 5-minute talk, Jung Von Mat pointed out that we don’t love a car for its horsepower or a bank for their interest rate – we love them for getting our family safely home, or being friendly and easy to interact with.

Apply that to the health world – products aren’t loved for their data, they are loved for curing people, alleviating symptoms or allowing a better quality of life. Apply humanity and emotion – whether that’s heart-wrenching or humorous – to a piece of health communication and you’re on to a winner. Because, who knew, HCPs are humans too. 

But emotiveness of a communication can be hard to quantify, no…?
Not if Accenture Interactive Brazil is to be believed. Their talk argued that the future of personalisation is heartbeats. What if the ❤️ on social media was linked to heart rate? So a higher number of ❤️ didn’t show the ‘likes’ but the average heart rate of the viewer – providing a more honest representation of feelings. Scary, huh? What’s more, everyone’s heartbeat is unique – so much so that it can be used as a biometric authentication tool – as Canadian company Nymi are showing. 

Nymi™’s multi-factor authenticator device

How long before we see these technologies applied in the real world? Year on year, at Lions Health, we’re seeing ever-increasing innovation and creativity in the sector. Campaigns playing on emotions more powerfully and in more varied ways. It’s a shame not to have the awards this year, but hopefully, next year we’ll see double the progress.

The healthcare communications industry is still only scratching at the surface of its potential for creative and emotional heft. But as creative agencies, we’re constantly pushing boundaries and I’m confident that Lions Health can eventually match and even overtake the other sectors as the gold standard of creativity.  

There’s plenty more to say – from eCommerce to creativity and efficacy – check back soon for more!

Cookies information

We use cookies to understand how visitors use our site. By clicking the “Accept” button, you agree to our use of cookies and similar technologies. You can manage your browser settings to disable cookies at any time. For more information, see our Cookie Policy.