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Good health

Healthcare communication, the newest category at Dubai Lynx, can fix real-world problems, writes festival director Thea Skelton.

Healthcare communication is “not advertising and communication for the sake of selling something; it’s actually to fix a realworld problem,” says June Laffey, ECD at McCann Health Australia/ SE Asia and jury president for the Pharma Lion at this year’s Cannes Lions. With this belief in mind, Dubai Lynx has introduced a new specialist award encompassing health and wellbeing consumer  products, education and awareness and corporate communications, as well as specialist categories for pharma communications and animal health.
This year the MENA region enjoyed incredible success at the 2017 Cannes Lions, with the UAE coming seventh out of the 27 countries to take home awards at Lions Health. As in many areas of the creative communications industry, the proliferation of technology is shaping the future of the field. “The best health advertising from around the world combines technology, innovation, science and data with ground-breaking creative problem solving,” says Robert Gibbs, creative director of McCann Health MENA. And he’s right. Med-tech start-ups focused on specific technologies are making connected technology available to a wider public. Greater use of wearable devices, coupled with big-data tools ,is equipping marketers with insights that are starting to revolutionise the medical and care-giving industry.
While these trends signal innovation coming down the line, the power of a simple insight should never be underestimated. A strong insight can still cut through and make a powerful impact, even in a complex arena like healthcare and pharma communications. The MENA region’s winning work at Lions Health was notable for its elegant simplicity.

The Classic Partnership’s ‘Footnote for the Breast’, produced for Medcare Women & Children Hospital, is a perfect example of a single, simple audience insight. To raise awareness about the importance of early detection of breast cancer, small pebbles were placed in the shoes of women who went to mosques and prayer halls. Each pebble was stamped with a message encouraging regular check-ups. When the women returned to put their shoes on, they felt the lump and were made aware of the message. The Health & Wellness jury at Lions Health were impressed enough with the campaign to award it a Bronze Lion.
Speaking on the reason behind its success, jury member Stacey Bernstein, executive vice-president and global director of digital health at Weber Shandwick, said: “The insight here is that it is taboo to talk about mammograms and breast cancer, but everybody goes and prays – so we’re going to use that one moment in time to capture people’s attention and make them think about this.” She added: “This is like the analogue version of thumb-stopping. You could not avoid it and it was so simple. You put your foot in your shoe, you had to take the pebble out to be able to put your shoe on properly, and that’s the best case of being thumb-stopping that I’ve ever seen.”
Gibbs agrees that it’s the right time for healthcare work in the region to benefit from recognition at Dubai Lynx. “It’s the perfect time to celebrate the best advertising and communication work from the pharma, health and wellness sectors,” he says. “There are some very complex topics here in the region and it is only through awareness, dialogue and action that these unique challenges can be overcome. This exciting Lynx Health category enables us, as an industry, to talk about and tackle some of the most pressing and important issues facing us as a society here in the Middle East and North Africa. These awards are going to help change people’s lives.”

Entries for all Dubai Lynx categories open on 24 November: