Skip to content

Ian Ray, Pegasus Head of Copy, reflects on the second day of the Cannes Lions Health Track and was struck by how many of the speakers’ campaigns began life as a simple, inarguable insight.

Concerned by research showing that men weren’t making donations, the team at SickKids threw out a perfectly successful approach to its fundraising comms in pursuit of something better.

Its bold ‘Vs’ campaign – consciously far more confrontational than anything delivered before – managed to bring in an entirely new, male audience while still retaining its former base of regular givers. Impressive stuff.

Its visceral campaign film, urging people to ‘fund the fight’ couldn’t be further from the reflective, piano-led fundraising pieces we’ve become accustomed to.

Another simple insight – that many children with brain tumors speak to imaginary friends – was the starting point for a wonderful campaign for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation.

The Imaginary Friend Society, co-ordinated by RPA but featuring the pro bono efforts of more than 20 agencies, brings a series of characters to life that teach children the basics about their illness through online resources and bedside screens.

Each character, created by a different agency, has its own animation to deliver crucial messages to children in ‘kid speak’. It’s a fantastic example of how the principles of health literacy can be delivered with flair and creativity.

The big learning for me was about the impact of longer-form storytelling. Much like Pfizer yesterday, Medulla shared a film that was unafraid to take its time in exploring a story. In this case, the insight was that talking about death is something of a taboo in Indian culture, meaning many life-limited patients never talk through their options for palliative care.

Medulla’s response was to create a film that saw a handful of people living with terminal illness perform their first ever stand-up gigs, sharing jokes about their illness to a packed audience.

Eighty-seven-year-old Pooran Isarsingh, who’d traveled from India to be at the festival, raised a few more laughs and she shared her experience with the crowd at Cannes.

With the health track now brought to a close, we’ll be bringing you some more thoughts and observations over the next few days. 

Receive all of our latest blog entries straight to your inbox!