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How the past 18 Months Has Tested the Values of Pharma

Awards and Events 166 Add to collection

Anne de Schweinitz, FleishmanHillard’s global managing director, Healthcare, and Pharma Lions Jury President on why she’s looking for work that delves into diverse human experiences of health and healthcare

How the past 18 Months Has Tested the Values of Pharma
In stark contrast to the world that the last Cannes Lions took place in, many of us will have uttered the name of a pharmaceutical company in a positive sentence in the past few months. AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna are genuine household names in many parts of the world now thanks to their involvement in developing and producing vaccines at pace to get the world back to some semblance of normality. And that’s just one of many ways in which the Pharma category has been drastically altered in the past 18 months.

So, this year’s Pharma category at Cannes Lions is a particularly intriguing one.Anne de Schweinitz, global managing director for healthcare at FleishmanHillard, has been leading the jury and she says she’s been looking for work that goes beyond technological gimmicks and speaks more profoundly to the realities of human health experiences. LBB’s Alex Reeves caught up with Anne to find out how she’s approaching judging and why this year’s winners are particularly important for defining the category.


LBB> After a year and a half of Covid-19, why does the business and creative world need award shows?

Anne> Interesting question. I think we need award shows like Cannes even more now after such a long period of uncertainty and isolation. We need to reconnect with each other, with big ideas and creative solutions. The healthcare environment is undergoing major transformation and we all need to learn what can really break through and make an impact in this new world.

LBB> You’ll be awarding 2020 and 2021 Lions – I know the years are being judged separately but it must be super illuminating to see the comparison between pre-Covid and Covid work. I know it’s still in the pre-judging phase, but have you noticed any trends or has it given you any new perspective on how the industry has changed?

Anne> I’m seeing some exceptional storytelling – especially through longer-form film and animation. This spans the pre-Covid and Covid eras, but work produced during Covid feels a bit more open, sincere and grounded in real lived experience. The social justice movement and racial reckoning – not just in the US but in countries around the world – is also having a big impact on how we communicate. Our health is deeply (and often tragically) linked to the color of our skin, where we live and the money in our pockets. Work that delves into diverse experiences of health and healthcare is compelling to me.


LBB> The pharma category is also particularly central to the discourse around the pandemic. How do you think the best pharma brands have proven their value in that context?

Anne> It feels odd to say, but pharma was given an extraordinary opportunity to prove its value (and values) over the past 18 months. Numerous companies jumped into the fray with all the inherent risks to both their operations and their reputations. And science prevailed! It’s thrilling to have witnessed what can be achieved in lightning speed when the objective is clear and will is great. I’m also very encouraged by the collaboration and partnership between private and public that has enabled the vaccines to get to so many people so far. There is obviously far more to do before anyone declares victory – and no doubt it’s been messy – but it’s been a pretty incredible 18 months for pharma.


LBB> The Grand Prix in pharma went to COPD's Breath of Life by McCann Health Shanghai in 2019. What is it about that campaign that you'll be looking for in work this year?

Anne> Breath of Life is such a beautiful piece of work because it taps so deeply into insights about Chinese culture, not just into an understanding of the challenges of COPD. I’m drawn to work that shows deep cultural and human understanding. A disease or condition is just a small piece of the puzzle when it comes to a person’s overall health and happiness, and great work usually captures this.


LBB> This has been a year that has seen the industry chuck out all of the rule books, so in some ways, this year’s Cannes Lions is a launchpad for the future – how does that frame how you’ll be looking at the work? Does it give the juries an extra responsibility?

Anne> The past 18 months have forced the adoption of digital, remote everything. Brands have been rapidly honing their skills on how they use data and technology to reach and influence audiences. Work that is basically just a clever use of “cool” technology isn’t enough anymore on its own. What’s the bigger story? What is the impact in moving people toward better health? That’s the responsibility of the jury at this point.


LBB> What advice will you be giving the jury?

Anne> I’m so fortunate to have a jury packed with incredible talent. They know what good looks like and bring great diversity of backgrounds and experience to the table. My advice is really simple: award the work that you just can’t shake from your head and heart. As one jury member said during a briefing, “I want to see work that makes me really jealous!”

LBB> Cannes is also a time of celebration. What will you be celebrating this year?

Anne> I’ll be celebrating the resilience and ingenuity of everyone out there who has continued to create inspiring work over the past many months despite their own unique struggles through this pandemic. 

LBB> What do you hope to see at Cannes 2022?  

Anne> People! Real, flesh and blood, passionate, curious, creative, messy, beautiful people!

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LBB Editorial, Fri, 11 Jun 2021 14:40:45 GMT