IPG Health @ Cannes Lions 2024 – insights report

At Cannes Lions 2024, attendees from across IPG Health immersed themselves in all that the world’s most prestigious advertising show had to offer, and captured key trends that are shaping the future of healthcare marketing.

Check out our key takeaways for these priority themes:


AI and creativity

Artificial intelligence is reshaping and redefining creativity in the advertising industry. As expected, AI continued to be a central topic, not just as a tool for automation, but as a partner in enhancing human creativity and pushing the boundaries of what's possible.

“...We need to get away from our current binary thinking. AI is like a child and if we don’t train it correctly, it will carry on with our biases. We need to see it as a tool to allow us to be better than who we currently are.” – James Corbett, Creative Director, Art, FCBCURE

“This year, it wasn't just about AI as a tool for inspiration; I enjoyed the next iteration of the conversation — AI being used as a tool to challenge oneself. It was about pushing boundaries, igniting a competitive spirit —'I’m better than a machine. Watch this.'” – Chinkara Singh, Group Director, Production, AREA 23

“In this new world of everything, everywhere, all at once — accelerated by AI — there are now unprecedented opportunities to differentiate. So, as brands fight for customers' time, attention, clicks, and love, they must embrace differentiation as the next creative frontier.” – Victor Iraizoz, Creative Director, IPG Health in Spain

“One of my favorite sessions was from Google Labs on their latest innovations using AI. They reviewed a particular program called Infinite Wonderland that allowed the story of Alice in Wonderland to be told using different visual styles and even starring different characters.

Imagine writing one patient story, but then leveraging AI to be able to adapt and tailor that story to a number of different patient types. It allows us to be more specific in our communications and reach a broader, more inclusive audience.” – Dave Traini, Group Creative Director, AREA 23


Health equity, diversity and inclusion

The festival emphasized the critical importance of inclusivity and equity, especially in healthcare marketing. Discussions focused on crafting campaigns that authentically represent and address the diverse needs of patients.

“The great challenge for brands is to connect not only with people's tastes, but with their values ​​and purposes. In that sense we saw that many brilliant campaigns presented worked on the idea of ​​helping the inclusion of people and patients and surely this continues to be the line to follow next year, putting the human being at the center of the story.” Victor Iraizoz, Creative Director, IPG Health in Spain

“Innovation, purpose and ideas that drive inclusivity and EDI again had starring roles this year; Many ideas centered around product/tech innovation, but the biggest winners were ideas where the patient was at the center and the tech was an enabler, not the other way around.” – Guy Swimer, Executive Creative Director, McCann Health London

“Health equity emerged as a crucial trend, highlighting the need to separate science fact from biased information. The only way to combat this bias is to listen, watch, and innovate around new ideas and solutions to ensure marginalized groups aren’t left behind in the future of data.

Eavesdropping on a Young Lions session, I was struck by the powerful declaration: 'Leaders need to engineer inclusion.” It's a call to action, emphasizing that inclusivity requires deliberate effort and daily practice.'"  Chinkara Singh, Group Director, Production, AREA 23

“In healthcare advertising, we have a special opportunity to enhance inclusivity further. By making sure every environment we create is accessible and welcoming to all, we ensure that everyone feels seen, heard, and respected. The more we see ourselves reflected in the environments that nurture creativity, the more inclusive work we inspire globally.” Lisa Lim, Creative Director, FCB Health New York

“AUTHENTICITY = Connection. It is not enough to represent those diverse individuals as a token role in someone else’s story — they should be central and with their lived experiences accurately and authentically shared. Unique perspectives should be celebrated.” Philip Schneider, Executive Producer, Creative Production, IPG Health

"There is a noticeable rise in inclusivity and a significant focus on creating engaging and interactive experiences. This trend potentially correlates with a shift away from purely AI-driven solutions to work that focuses on real people and their health engagement. An example is The Heart Surgeon’s Cookbook, an interactive cookbook that isn’t just something to read but an engaging tool and experience. Another standout is the Grand Prix-winning Magnetic Stories [AREA 23], an MRI scanner children’s audio story enhancing the patient experience." – David Prater, Executive Creative Director, FCB Health London

"For the past few years, DEI in advertising has seemed more like a token driven theme, where advertisers were really just trying to tick off as many boxes as possible. For example, representation in ads that are more inclusive in terms of the kinds of people they cast for any given campaign. This is a step forward, but is somewhat superficial, hence the label 'token representation.'"

"What struck me this year, however, was the number of award-winning campaigns that went beyond simple representation and built daring campaigns around the most under-represented groups." Melissa Brunet, Executive Creative Director, IPG Health in France

“Inclusion = Income. As the session ‘How to Win In 2029’ pointed out, the idea of the nuclear family is dying, so brands must update their portrayals of families to include same-sex couples, blended families, and adults living with parents. This adaptation is not just socially responsible but also profitable.” Eric John, Associate Creative Director, FCB Health London


Humanity, empathy and human touch in a digital world

As technology advances, brands are increasingly focused on maintaining a genuine emotional and human connection to resonate profoundly with consumers' lives and values and celebrating the enduring importance of the human touch in communications. Personal interactions and tactile experiences are proving essential in distinguishing brands in a crowded digital marketplace, emphasizing the blend of technology with human-centric design.

“In almost all the sessions I attended, the reigning themes seemed to be ‘humanity’ and, ‘empathy,’ or some combination of the two. It seems that the further we delve into the AI, the tech, and the deepening understanding that this is the way of the 'future,' people are also trying to hold on to an emotional link between brands and their targets....I find it interesting that in this rapid rise of technology there is an equal and coinciding response that is a desire to acknowledge that we’re all still simply human.” Morgan Mellas, Art Supervisor, Neon

“The most delightful surprise was the prominence of tactile pieces. Amid the digital frenzy, these tangible creations stood out, reminding us of the irreplaceable value of human touch and interaction.

The industry’s rapid embrace of AI technology is undeniable. Yet, this festival highlighted a crucial balance: while we soar into the future with AI, we must not lose sight of our humanity. The tactile installations – books, interactive displays, and other touchable art forms – offered a refreshing counterpoint to the digital dominance.” – James Corbett, Creative Director, Art, FCBCURE

“ ...the spotlight was on the full embrace of consumer behavior. Brands are not just observing; they’re immersing themselves in the artistic interpretations of their logos, the quirky mispronunciations of their names by real people, and the tactile engagement with tangible media like recycled cans.” – Chinkara Singh, Group Director, Production, AREA 23

“In an increasingly fragmented world, consumers seek connection and belonging. Self-expression is on the rise, but people also want to be part of something bigger. Fandoms and passion-based communities illustrate this trend, while phenomena like #barbiecore show the demand for communal touchpoints.” – Keshni Sharma, Group Creative Director, Neon

“Cannes has reminded all of us that humanity, positive and strong feelings are still at the center of any unexpected connections with brands.” Fabio Teodori, Chief Creative Officer, McCann Health Boot

“Surprisingly, there was less emphasis on AI than expected. I noticed a lot of winning work wasn’t about complicated, whizzy AI apps; it was about beautifully simple ideas. Simple ideas transcend language barriers and are globally viable, resonating with audiences around the world.” David Prater, Executive Creative Director, FCB Health London

“In terms of healthcare, I noticed one trend in particular. Yes, AI and new technologies play a role, but in my opinion, the cases and also the talks showed very strongly that the main role is played by humans. And especially in the healthcare sector, the focus is on ensuring that people with health problems and limitations benefit and that their quality of life can be restored. AI is the tool to take creative ideas to the next level, but the focus is on human creativity, a realization that has been reflected almost everywhere.” – Yvonne Andreas, Creative Director, IPG Health Frankfurt


Humor in healthcare marketing

Underpinning the Festival’s inaugural humor category, humor, comedy appeared more prominently than ever. Brands are harnessing the transformative power of humor in healthcare advertising and beyond. Humor not only disarms and engages audiences but also heals, providing a unique and effective approach to discussing serious topics and connecting with audiences on a deeper level.

“Humor: Just what the doctor ordered: Healthcare can greatly benefit from more doses of humor. In the cancer space, we see empowerment, bold metaphors, and serious imagery, but rarely do we see funny. Humor has the unique ability to cut through the noise and capture attention. It’s fresh, it’s unexpected, and it can speak to the world in a culturally relevant way. Most importantly, humor can be a powerful source of healing.” – Lisa Lim, Creative Director, FCB Health New York

“Find the funny: Moments of humor and levity matter more than ever in an anxious world. Now, the Cannes Lions festival has introduced a category dedicated to humor. We saw that very apparent in the work across various categories. Examples included: 'The last barf bag' Dramamine, 'Breath through it' Halls, 'The first Edible mascot' Pop-Tarts.” – Keshni Sharma, Group Creative Director, Neon

"Humor, humor, humor. There was a great desire for lightness, alongside the need to create equality, inclusion and respect for humans. Comedy is back and finally we saw lots of great works (short and long format) where people were engaged by smart, simple and fresh thoughts." Fabio Teodoro, Chief Creative Officer, McCann Health Boot



Sustainability is no longer just an optional aspect of branding but a core component of the corporate responsibility agenda. Brands are taking concrete actions to reduce their environmental impact, and transparent sustainability initiatives are becoming critical in building and maintaining trust with customers. 

“We expect brands to be sustainable. We expect them to consider our mental health. And we expect that consumers hold brands they trust accountable, not unlike how they hold their governments accountable.

Consumers and brands will have to make significant sacrifices to mitigate climate disaster, from overhauling operations to forgoing personal comfort and accepting major lifestyle changes. Vague sustainability claims about offsetting and planting trees are increasingly likely to be dismissed as greenwashing. Brands must put their money where their mouth is. But, at the same time, some brands are making consumers face up to the eco-sacrifices they must make in the years to come. Others are having to recalibrate their sustainability shifts to meet with consumer demand.” –Keshni Sharma, Group Creative Director, Neon