We talk with Kathy Delaney, Jury President of the new Lions Health festival in Cannes, about the importance of visual storytelling in healthcare communications and how elevating women in creative leadership roles can drive change in the way females are portrayed in advertising.

2014 is a big year for the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity:  It marks the inaugural year for Lions Health, honoring creativity in healthcare communications.  Another milestone is this year’s festival naming four female Jury Presidents – the highest representation by women to date.

We spoke with Lions Health Jury President, and Global Chief Creative Officer at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness, Kathy Delaney about elevating women in the creative industry to drive change in how females are visually portrayed in advertising. Plus we look at visual trends in healthcare communications and how the new Lions Health festival can inspire innovative campaigns.

Kathy Delaney - Photo credit: Kristin Gladney

InFocus:  At Getty Images, we’ve been tracking the changing visual dialogue around females.  Are you noticing shifts in how women and girls are represented in healthcare communications?  Are you satisfied with the way that females are currently portrayed? 

KD: While I’ve seen an improvement in how women are represented in the healthcare space, I believe we still have a long way to go. In advertising and communications, it’s very difficult to find images of 45-65-year-old women – an important audience in healthcare – that are shot in a beautiful, powerful way. Great portraiture that celebrates this group is almost nonexistent.

There’s also a void in depictions of real women in everyday, believable scenarios. Not ‘Architect Woman’ or ‘Doctor Woman,” but real women. To me, seeing a woman who is confident and comfortable in her own skin and environment is what’s truly aspirational – not the forced ‘career woman’ clichés. 

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InFocus:  This year 4 out of 19 jury presidents at Cannes Lions are women, more than any previous year.  Are you seeing more women entering senior creative roles across the advertising industry?  Does more work need to be done to elevate women into these roles?

KD: The reality is that women are incredibly powerful in the marketplace. They are accountable for more than 80 percent of U.S. spending. Yet, we still struggle to connect with them. By enabling more women to lead marketing and creative, and to make decisions, we can make a stronger appeal to that enormous purchasing majority. Some of the responsibility needs to fall on clients (brands) and agencies to step forward and ask for leads that reflect that purchasing majority.

InFocus:  Do you think that having more women in senior creative roles can accelerate the change in how females are portrayed in advertising? 

KD: Absolutely. The more we can hire, train and promote talented women in senior roles, the better we’ll be. Not only in effectively communicating with women, but also representing them appropriately. In a male-dominated industry, female voices are needed more than ever – but not just any female voice, a strong, differentiated female voice. Luckily, our agency makes women a big priority. I can see it and feel it in the work.

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InFocus:  This is the inaugural year for Lions Health.  What are your hopes for the affect that this festival will have on the healthcare industry?

KD: The first-ever Lions Health couldn’t have come at a better time. The modern health world is flooded with emerging technology and media platforms that are changing the way consumers approach their health and wellness – and how we as communicators engage and influence them through those channels. This requires creativity, innovation and originality. Lions Health will not only elevate the quality of our industry’s product overall, but also inspire agencies and clients to raise the bar and deliver the unexpected like never before.

As President of the Health and Wellness Jury, I know that Cannes’ standards of excellence across ideas, executions and results will not waiver. This is going to be one tough show where only the bravest and best work in this space will be showcased and celebrated.

InFocus:  What are the key visual trends that you observe in current healthcare communications?  How would you like to see these trends evolve?

KD: Visual trends are moving away from the metaphors of yore, away from heavy CGI work, and away from retouching, which is fantastic. Dove made strides for all of us with their ‘Real Beauty’ campaign. Yes, we have a long way to go, but I am seeing more of an emphasis on the real and authentic, as opposed to the manufactured.

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InFocus:  Healthcare creatives need to navigate quite strict advertising guidelines.  What are some creative ways that you’ve seen brands overcoming this challenge?

KD: As in all advertising, there are constraints. Instead of being swayed by healthcare and its limitations, we have to look for the universal human truth in any given assignment. It guides everything we do at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness, from the insight that 'people love and want to be loved (by their pets)’ for the NexGard advertising platform to 'people are afraid to be alone (when facing a disease) and want support' for Humira.com.

The universal human truth leads you to great ideas, regardless of legal constraints. I also like to say, a picture speaks a thousand words, and can save a thousand words of fair balance. Images can leave emotional impressions that would be difficult to say directly in a regulated environment. Visual storytelling is always powerful, but is even more so in healthcare.

About Kathy Delaney – Global Chief Creative Officer, Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness

Kathy Delaney graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York City and built her advertising career over 12 years at Deutsch before joining Nitro in 2007 as Global Chief Creative Officer. In February of 2013, she joined Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness, the leading marketing agency specializing in consumer wellness, as Global Chief Creative Officer. In this role, she is responsible for implementing a bold creative vision, overseeing the overall creative product and ensuring that the agency is a product-driven organization.  Kathy also founded her own consultancy, KDCnyc, in 2011.

Kathy has won numerous awards for her work, including ADDYs, Webby’s, ANDYs, Effies, One Show Gold, Communication Arts and Art Director’s Club. Her work is featured in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent advertising collection. She has also been honored with the American Advertising Federation Under 40 Hall of Achievement Award and served as a judge at the 2010 Cannes Lion International Festival. In January of 2013, Business Insider named her as one of “The Most Creative Women in Advertising.”

 

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