The Terrible Twos

I couldn’t help but see this second year of the Cannes Health Lions through my motherhood eyes.  For many of us, raising a two-year-old brings great joy, pride, excitement, wonder, the feeling “I am getting this!” And on-and-off frustrations. (And yes, the occasional tantrum!)

This year's Cannes Health Lions, themed, “Life Saving Creativity” showed all the signs of the important second year of life. We are stronger, with attendance up one third, with more than 800 delegates. We are spreading our wings and we are challenging ourselves.  

The first message, of the first day, of the first session, was loud and clear: “We are fighting for our creative lives." Yes, in this category, where we communicate in terms of life and death, love and support, the art of science, real DNA drama, we need to do more.  Be more, break more rules, be more provocative, be braver, and be more human – leave our comfort zone.

We were first inspired by Shane Koyczan, a poet who was bullied growing up – wow!  He spoke in pure poetry about how we need to deal with big issues in big ways.  @koyczan fills stadiums and TED talks with his rousing, low key message.  “Shut Up and Say Something”

We then heard from a plastic surgeon who left the medical field, after challenging the status quo of health insurance and securing insurance coverage for all US women with the right to reconstructive breast surgery, to do documentaries giving voices to people who need them.  His latest, is the "Dr. Recognition" project, bringing the real truth of being a doctor today to life.  Starting with the phrase "HCPs.”  We are doctors. How depressing to think about doctors leaving medicine and a new generation who doesn’t want to be part of a field that is perhaps the most important of all – saving lives.  Curing disease.  Providing comfort and hope.

And I noticed big differences this year.  More clients. Thank you for being here! From GSK to Novartis! We need you! We need you to demand better work.  To support better work.  To fight for better work! Bravo to see all the boundaries we can break with your support (Sex Toys and MS!) Yes that is breaking rules. 

And another big difference, college students are here! I met a large group of lovely young women from the University of Georgia.  Who want to practice the craft – and do good! How millennial of them.  Maybe this is the opportunity for the field to revitalize. To populate with a generation who want to heal the world.  And get involved.  Challenge the status quo.  And be creative! 

Of course there were Awards.  And I applaud all the winners.

But perhaps the biggest applause goes to all of the “toddlers” who want to be treated as grown-ups, like their brethren who are here for the Cannes Lions. They know they need to earn it.  As do their clients.  And from these last two days you can feel the momentum. The call to creative arms.  

And while we teach our kids not to run into traffic, Ilya Naishuller, A Hollywood Director of “One Mad Mother F@#Ker” left the stage with this advice from his homeland, “If you fear the wolves, do not go into the forest”. 

Very wise advice for an industry on the cusp of massive transformation.

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