After sitting through over an hour of the most glorious moments of rock, I thought to myself, how can a band like RUSH be so different yet so successful through all these years.

RUSH? You know, the Canadian progressive rock band from the 70’s. OK, maybe it’s just old rockers like me who love this stuff. 

Anyway, it was about sticking to their guns and not doing what the record company told them. The company said, “Make it hip, make it sound like today”. They said, “NO, we’re RUSH man, we play what’s natural to us, we also know our audience and what they love”.

So, as we prepare for the numerous healthcare award shows, I hope health agencies have stayed true to themselves. They are out to impress their audience, not just the judges. Have they used the latest technology and thinking to make a real difference, not just because it’s cool? Have they hired the best photographer to connect with patients, not their peer group? 

This is easier said than done. Shows like Cannes Lions have opened the door to the award sharpshooters. The mainstreamers who can smell the opportunity to bag more trophies. 

Health is easy prey to them and last year was a testament to that. Most of the gold awards were snapped up by non-healthcare agencies. Yes, they had great work but they also have clients that believe in the power of it. Ones that demand briefs to ultimately change lives, ones that want an agency to come to them with inspiring ideas yet are not too scared to go implement them.

I believe we need to turn our clients onto these shows and the importance of creative excellence and innovation. I know some companies share briefs out to all their agencies with the sole purpose of winning a Lion. 


Apart from being in the south of France with the sea, sand, talks and parties, they know that brilliant creativity is good for business. They want to be there to soak it up and inspire themselves. They are part of the band. 

I must admit, it’s a bit hard for me to convince a client from Sydney to jump on a plane (unless we were paying) and join the crowds on the Croisette. But we can bring Cannes back here. Show them what went on, why award shows are worth investing in. The trick is to make it relevant – show them the work that challenges the status quo gets results beyond a trophy. We can’t expect our clients to want to move away from their norm unless we do this. We (Managing Directors, Creative Directors, Writers, Art Directors, Account Service, Admin) need to make creativity important for business. If we don’t, the non-healthcare agencies will be taking home health related awards – not you.

So, as we edge towards Cannes Lions, I am hoping we will see a stack of hits by healthcare shops. Agencies who like RUSH were brave and didn’t just aim to please the jury – they made something that’s truly memorable because it would make a difference to the audience it was intended for.  And, if you happen to get a Lion, well that’s just like getting a gold record, a very heavy memorandum that the work is bloody good.