For our final Daily Dose, we wanted to give you a roundup of our busy week on the Croisette with some words from our pharma clients who joined us in Cannes. Here’s what they had to say about their experience and a summary of the major trends from the week - and – of course, what they mean for Pharma.

This is Day 5 of our series, "The Daily Dose." Read Day 4 here, Day 3 here, Day 2 here, and Day 1 here.

Words from our clients about Cannes Lions

Dr. Erica Taylor PhD, Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer, Genentech: "Cannes Lions gave us a double expresso hit of creativity and ideas. It’s a rare treat – not to mention incredibly inspiring – to get a front-row view of creativity at its finest, and to try and figure out how we can blend these ideas with science and medicine. Doctors, patients and consumers are all so receptive to content that engages them on a personal, human level. Cannes Lions reminded us that creativity is a great way to connect with these important audiences and help change lives. I can’t wait to take these ideas back to our teams at Genentech."

Burcak Simsek, Global Lead Contraception, Women’s Healthcare, Bayer Pharmaceuticals: "This was my first Cannes Lions but it won’t be my last. The festival is a melting pot of creative ideas and innovative thinking, providing a unique forum to challenge industry norms and look to the future. I came away with many new thoughts on how pharma can do things differently, and I’m eager to put some of those ideas into practice. I was particularly pleased to see so many forums dedicated to women’s health – a topic I’m passionate about on both a personal and professional level. Cannes gave me the chance to speak to influencers and change-makers in this important area, which was an added bonus. All in all, Cannes Lions is the perfect creative stimulant and a mecca for people who want to help our industry and ideas flourish. I’ll be back."

A summary of the trends to watch for Pharma from Cannes Lions


It was a quieter year for the Pharma category at Cannes. Only 7 winners out of 224 entries, but there was still inspiration to be found. Our own VML Health global head of craft, Naxto Diaz, was on the pharma juror and he pointed to several trends he’s planning to bring back to talk to the agency and clients about. I’ll let him talk about the specifics with everyone, but I will say he and the other judges mentioned more focus on the customer experience, more product innovation, and more inclusivity and expanding access themes in the winning work here. Our work for Biogen’s ‘Not a Lonely Journey’, a practical guidebook for disabled travellers and Organon’s Mis(s)diagnosed – multimedia kits that raise awareness of the symptoms of female heart attacks – were pharma’s sole success stories, each picking up bronze.


Social media influencers were everywhere on Monday from the power couple of singer John Legend and model and influencer Chrissy Teigen on the central Palais stage to the Gen Z-popular Instagram and TikTok stars like Alix Earle and also Summer Friday brand co-founder Marianna Hewitt.

Everyone’s trying to figure out how to work with social media influencers, but pharma has the added burden of following strict regulatory guidelines. Still, we think there are lessons from the more consumer-type brands and people we’re seeing here. Authenticity is key, finding the right fit with the right people is important, and making sure the work is collaborative, not just handing them a script, goes a long way.

June 17 Daily Dose Hero


VML Health also had our own session with Genentech chief marketing officer Erica Taylor and it was great to see a pharma marketing leader on the stage here. Our chief creative officer Mel Routhier and Erica Taylor talked about how we’re “doing pharma differently” in ways like blending creative and scientist teams in ways we haven’t before and outlined how we are now inviting regulatory people into the creative process.

Yes, regulatory people – like lawyers. Mel says it’s turned out that when we involve them early in the process and ask for their opinion, they become more invested in the work and actually help us find ways to get regulatory approval versus the old days of just saying no.

Pharma and ad agency relationships don’t have to be static or the same-old same-old. Blending science, creative and regulatory teams, as we’re finding out, can help push everyone to tap into new skills – and better outcomes.

1 Z9 A 4648


The health and wellness judges gave us the inside scoop on how the best campaigns rose to the top of the more than 1,250 entries rose to the top. Topping the list was humor – it turns out funny does just sell, it also wins awards. The Grand Prix winner was a perfect example with Dramamine’s offbeat “The Last Barf Bag” winning smiles and kudos for celebrating the end of the airsick back thanks to the medicine. Did you know there have been thousands of different designs and an entire subculture of collectors of them? Anyway, it’s good inspiration from the less-regulated health category and a reminder to continue to keep thinking about how to add, maybe not outright laughter, but humor and light-heartedness into pharma marketing work.

Another well-attended and talked about session feature Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, but not for his tech and social platform entrepreneurship. Instead, he shared the stage with women athletes to talk about the rise and importance of college and professional women’s sports. Most of us have already heard about some of that, especially this year with women’s NCAA college basketball and overwhelming viewer turnout that increased by 128% while the men’s tournament dropped by 3%. It’s a long time coming for women of course, but it’s more than just an inspirational story – it’s a real and serious commercial success story.

VML drove this the message home with a standing room only session with actor, producer, comedian and SNL cast member Kenan Thompson; Hellmann’s Christopher Symmes; and VML’s Debbi Vandeven. Moderated by our global CEO Jon Cook they talked about how brands can harness humour to not only capture market share, but also shape cultural discourse and drive connections. Christopher Symmes, Head of Marketing, Dressings and Condiments North America for Hellman’s sums it up – “Humor allows us to invite consumers into conversations without judgement.


Brands should be investing in women’s sports, whether that’s through media buys during those events or looking to create authentic brand partnerships – and that includes pharma and health companies. Diabetes glucose monitoring brand Dexcom has seen success with its name, image and likeness or NIL deal with more than 20 college athletes who are living with type 1 diabetes while playing Division 1 sports.

As Ohanian said, women’s sports are only going to get bigger and now is the smart time for real investment and involvement.


It wouldn’t be a proper 2024 showcase industry get-together without the mention of artificial intelligence. And there were many many mentions. The conversation did shift from last year when everyone was simply asking “What is AI?” to this year’s more introspective “How will AI change marketing?”

The general agreement is AI adds efficiency, speed, ideation and yes, creative work, but the human touch will remain essential. Unilever chief growth officer Esi Eggleston Bracey told creatives: “The real magic behind our brands is you. You stand at the intersection of insights and impact and artificial and human intelligence and creativity and commerce. It’s you who fall in love with people and solve problems.”

Google executives showing off its Gemini AI platform agreed that no matter how much AI advances, it still can’t replace the intuition, style and ingenuity of people. Even Elon Musk talking to our own WPP CEO Mark Read noted that “AI will amplify creativity.”


And while there aren’t a lot of pharma companies on the stages here, Novo Nordisk was here on Tuesday with their spokesperson rapper and actor Queen Latifah. The focus was on conversations around weight – and the stigma, myths and silence around the disease of obesity. The “Bigger Than Me” campaign running now for almost three years includes educational efforts to change perceptions, including doctors. Novo’s head of commercial strategy and marketing talked about how they even created an “inclusive obesity care” for healthcare professionals to use online and in their practices to let patients know they will be welcomed and accepted.


On Tuesday we got some “everyday” words of wisdom for P&G chief branding officer – and marketing legend – Marc Pritchard. He drolly noted that while P&G diaper, toothpaste and toilet brands are not the first thing that comes to mind when talking about creativity but cautioned us not to overlook those “everyday moments” that are actually rich with potential. I mean, it is the company that brought us “The best a man can get” for Gillette shavers.

Please provide your contact information to continue.

Before submitting your information, please read our Privacy Policy as it contains detailed information on the processing of your personal data and how we use it.

Related Content

Kate Cronin from Moderna 2

The Daily Dose: June 20

Checking in on panels, talks, awards, and people at Cannes Lions for insights and trends in pharma and healthcare
Read Article
Z9 A 5665

The Daily Dose: June 19

Checking in on panels, talks, awards, and people at Cannes Lions for insights and trends in pharma and healthcare
Read Article