Bagging the coveted Healthcare Agency of the Year title - a first for the country, Indian agency Medulla Communications created history at the 2016 Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity. Out of 58 entries in the Cannes Lions Pharma category, Medulla Communications scooped seven Lions – the maximum metals by any Indian agency.
In fact, last year at the inaugural edition of the Healthcare Agency of the Year awards, Medulla had won the third place, becoming the first from India to do so. It was also the agency’s maiden year of submitting its work at the Cannes Lions and it received a lot of recognition and visibility for its work done in the healthcare segment.
Visibly delighted, Praful Akali, Founder & Managing Director, Medulla Communications said, “We were expecting to be No 1 in the Healthcare segment, but never thought of leading the Indian metal tally at Cannes. This is a dream come true for all of us, after we came third last year with no planning or working towards it, we really owed it to ourselves to work towards becoming the number 1 agency. So it was actually a focused effort; and studying last year’s winner, it seemed impossible, but it isn’t.”
Before starting his own agency eight years ago, Praful Akali, an IIM graduate, worked with top companies like Pfizer, Boots Healthcare International and Ranbaxy in the consumer Healthcare marketing segment. His brother Amit Akali comes from an advertising background. His previous stint before starting his own agency was at Grey Worldwide India as the NCD and Senior Executive Vice President. A lot of the work is jointly created by Amit and Praful’s team and both of them equally contribute in each other’s agencies.
Amit Akali, Managing Partner & Creative Head, What’s Your Problem said, “We are a small agency and we realised that we don’t have crazy budgets to send in a lot of entries. So we focussed and shortlisted our 4 best campaigns to enter the category with. We were fairly confident with at least 3 campaigns and that went on to win everything. We are also extremely delighted that these are the work done for big clients like GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Johnson & Johnson and Indian Association of Palliative Care (IAPC).”
Talking about how the agency has worked towards changing the portrayal of healthcare in the Indian advertising space, which is usually perceived as boring, Praful cited, “It is not only in India, but globally as well, healthcare is considered to be boring. But healthcare genuinely has the life changing ability, which any detergent or fashion piece of work won’t have. So the positives are real and we realised that a lot of the negatives like the regulatory barriers posing as challenges are more in our heads. It can be complex, but then complexity gives you more peg, people say, you need to be ethical in medical advertising, but hey you need to be ethical in any given piece of advertising work! So we realised that the challenges don’t exist at all and went on to create a healthcare specialist agency.”
Medulla bagged 2 Gold Lions for its work “Last Words” in the Education and Awareness category (Integrated Campaign and Digital: Online Video) for its client IAPC. The agency won 2 Silver Lions for its campaigns for GSK and IAPC. It further got 1 Bronze Lion for its campaign “Slums (Housing Colonies) for Worms” for GSK and 2 Bronze metals were bagged for “ADHD Symptom Stamps” campaign for Johnson & Johnson. Medulla Communications was India’s lone entrant to the Pharma Lions shortlists. Both Praful and Amit also took the stage at the Cannes Lions Festival 2016 to deliver a session on ‘Integrating Medical with Creative: Learning from the Great Indian Family’.
The agency had two representatives selected for the RB and Lions Health Innovation Hack at Cannes, amongst a select group of 12 candidates globally this year. Vinayak Shinde, Creative Director, Medulla Communications and Swapna Kulkarni, Medical Consultant, Medulla Communications was selected to be part of the global innovation hack.
In a guest column written for exchange4media, Shinde shared, “As I leave for India today, I have a reply for my friends from the fraternity who used to ask me, ‘Kya kar raha hai healthcare mein yaar, humare pass dekh, mainline ke clients hai, FMCG products hai, crores ka budget hai, kya hai tumhare pass?’ To them I say - Mere pass apna personal “Lion” hai!”