Praful Akali
Oct 25, 2016

Opinion: How global is each advertising awards show?

The author reflects on various healthcare awards and picks his favourite work from across the world

Opinion: How global is each advertising awards show?
Just coming back after being a part of the Executive Jury at the Global Awards, New York, I realised that over the very frantic last five months or so, we at Medulla have been part of several leading awards shows across the world. Cannes, Spikes, and now the Global, with some of the results at Clio still coming in. As we now take a deep breath and regroup, it’s probably a good time to reflect back on the various awards.
Of course, being a jury member at Global was a great experience. Luckily Medulla had not taken part in the Global Awards so it gave me a chance to relax and get a feel of the jury’s discussions without stressing about whether our work was going to win. Global is organised by the New York Festivals for over a couple of decades now, and till the Cannes Lions Health was set up in 2014, were by far the most respected healthcare advertising awards across the world. The 20 jury members included the global or American creative heads of the healthcare arms of TBWA, Publicis, Ogilvy, McCann, FCB and many others. This still meant that most of the jury members came in from within the US and I was  the one who’d travelled the most distance to be there.
Talking to the other jury members made me realise that a majority of the pharma and healthcare advertising business still operates out of the US. Till a few years back this also reflected in the awards shows, with the US being the epicentre of healthcare advertising awards as well. With the Cannes Lions Health coming in, the spotlight is now divided and there seem to be mixed feelings about that. Not all the jury members I met come in to Cannes each year and some feel that the American entries do not get the justice they deserve. As a result of this, the Global Awards more accurately reflects healthcare advertising in the US than the Cannes Lions do.
This clearly has an impact on the shortlists as well as the winners. I saw a lot of new work that had not been shortlisted at Cannes or at Spikes 2016. Interestingly, more than the emotions that drive a lot of Indian advertising, the jury seemed to be nodding their heads for humour and for stylisation. Even the life-changing creativity that is the tagline for Cannes Lions Health and that is often the hallmark of award-winning work at the Cannes Lions, did not seem to find as many takers at the Global Awards.
Finally, moving away from controversy, and nearing the end of the advertising awards season, it’s also a good time for me to list down some of my favourite work in healthcare advertising this year – of course it’s work that has also been winning at a number of the awards shows. Hope you enjoy it all as much as I did.
  • United health dirty dancing: This is a hilarious insurance commercial that I love because it’s fun, creative and just right for the brand too.

  • Sea hero quest: One of the few  pieces of communication that I feel can actually transform healthcare advertising over the years. It’s a mobile game, it’s a piece of communication, and it’s a clinical research program on dementia – all rolled into one incredible creative.
  • Manboobs: What, you’ve not seen this yet?!

  • Philips Breathless Choir: This was one of the Grand Prix winners at Cannes this year and I love it because it’s as much a good deed as a piece of communication.
  • We speak people: This was a social experiment set up by GSW Worldwide, a healthcare specialist ad agency. One of the ads that I really, really wish had been done by Medulla.
  • Last Words: Our big winner across awards shows this year – how could I not mention it in my list of favourites?

(Praful Akali is founder-director, Medulla Communications, a healthcare specialist advertising agency.)

Campaign India