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Cannes Lions 2018: Medulla’s Amit and Praful Akali talk about life-changing creativity

Pooran Isarsingh, an 87-year-old terminally ill patient who was part of the agency’s award-winning campaign #LaughAtDeath, and pharmaceutical company Mylan’s CEO Heather Bresch accompanied them on stage

It was day two at Cannes Lions Health Inspiration stage, where the hall was converted into a laughter club and the audience was seen laughing for a minute continuously right at the beginning of the session conducted by Amit Akali, Chief Creative Officer and Praful Akali, MD and Founder of Medulla Communications. The Akali brothers were there to talk about ‘Life-Changing Creativity’.

“The difference between mainline and healthcare is the ‘Life-Changing Creativity’. Adding the life-changing efforts to the healthcare category advertising makes it really powerful. It is not that mainline advertising is not doing life-changing creativity, but you can’t be without it in the healthcare space,” said Amit.

The duo showed their award-winning campaign ‘#LaughAtDealth’ for which Medulla won the Cannes Lions, Clio’s and Effies in 2017. The campaign was in a real sense a life-changing creativity.

Talking about the campaign, Praful said, “Talking about death in India is a taboo. The taboo is irrational the extent that the doctors even don’t talk about death to patients. Half of the patients treated for cancer in India are not even told by doctors that they have cancer. If they don’t talk about death, they will never talk about palliative care.”

Adding, Amit said, “As part of the campaign, the terminally ill patients took to the stage to become stand-up comedians and make fun of death to the doctors and their families to make them understand the importance of palliative care.”

With the help of the campaign, doctors in India started talking about palliative care to patients and people started talking about death.

Amit said, “Life-changing creativity is an interesting model that can be used for any of the brands by start asking that ‘What is life-changing for my consumers right now?’. Understand what can bring change in the consumer’s life. Then the creative team just has to go out there and do the creative that allows making that change.”

The seminar was joined by Pooran Isarsingh, one of the stand-up comedians in the #LaughAtDeath campaign. Born in 1931, Isarsingh is probably the oldest Cannes Lions speaker. She is the first lady to practice taxation in India. At the age of 85, Isarsingh had a dengue attack and all her vital organs collapsed. But she managed to survive. Her heart works at only 20% of its capacity today.

Isarsingh talked about how the idea of laughing at death changed her life and she has learned to take life as it comes to her and is happy with the only fact that she is alive. She also said that after the campaign, she almost became a celebrity with her pictures on the front page of the newspapers and her campaign video going viral.

Leaving the message behind for the audience, Isarsingh said, “The creative people have the power to change the lives of people like us. If I can laugh at this stage of my life, then anyone can.”

The Akali brothers also shared a few insights and messages from some of the biggest names in the healthcare industry with the help of Cannes committee.

Below are a few pictures from the session, which shows key insights and learnings from the healthcare creative industry stalwarts, collated by Amit and Praful for the creative industry to follow.

Towards the end of the session, the Akali brothers were joined by Heather Bresch, CEO, Mylan.

Heather said, “Too often in many parts of the country we don’t do a great job in preventing people from getting sick. Education around staying healthy is really what should drive healthcare.”

Generally, marketers keep aside the brand purpose in the healthcare communication space, which should not be the case. Emphasising on keeping brand purpose at the centre of healthcare communication, Heather said, “The brands should be authentic about the cause and its purpose. We should also be cognizant of the different and local needs of each country.”

Ending the session, Praful said, “It is about experiments. Each of us on a day-to-day basis is trying to live the philosophy of life-changing creativity and it is still an experiment. We are working towards it and getting further and further towards life-changing creativity each day.”

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