Live from Cannes Lions: Medulla is consistently one of the top award winners at Lions Health. This year, they came to the conference stage to share some of their experiments in life-changing creativity with a very special guest.

One of the partnerships Medulla is most famous for is the work they’ve done with the Indian Association of Palliative Care. Over time they’ve built a number of heart-rending stories and creative actions. Last year, they created a very funny one.

In India, speaking about death is taboo. Half of patients in India being treated for cancer haven’t even been told by their doctors that they have cancer. They’re being treated but don’t know for what – because that would mean talking about the possibility of death. That taboo keeps families and care teams from having important conversations about just how someone wants to die, forcing live saving procedures to extend life rather than palliative care to preserve its dignity and choice.

This year, the association asked dying patients to take to the stage to joke about it. These patients were selected from hundreds of terminally ill patients that IAPC members support daily, and trained by India’s best stand-up comedians – Kunal Kamra, Kashyap, Vinay Sharma and Punit Pania. The live experience made its way to television, the internet and radio before going global with the BBC.


One of those patients, Pooran Isarsingh, came to Cannes to share her story. She was born in 1921 and in recent years she’s faced a number of health challenges that doctors didn’t expect her to fight back from. But here she is in France, fighting through heart failure, and embracing laugh therapy. She shared stories of how the taboo kept her loved ones from saying they were sick until their last few days. Even Pooran kept her illness a secret after she was diagnosed until her doctors told them when she was gravely ill. Now she talks – and laughs about it – out loud.

The leaders at Medulla talked to Lions winners across the industry and asked them: What is life-changing creativity and how is it created? Here are some of our favorite answers:

  • Ads are often designed to have value  for the brand. When the ad also has value for the audience – that’s life-changing creativity.
  • Purpose driven advertising that makes a real difference in people’s lives.
  • Once you learn about the plight of a group and you have the ability to help them, how can you not? That’s the source of life-changing creativity.
  • When a very special idea or project comes along you feel it in the pit of your stomach. It’s kind like the feeling on a first date when you know you’re falling in love.
  • Ask patients: what’s your biggest pain point with this need? Finding the right problem to solve is half the battle.
  • Use collaboration: life-changing ideas can inspire the world to support you. That’s when magical things happen. 
  • Life-changing creativity should ask you to join in. Be a change agent. Be part of the solution. 
  • A principle is not a principle until it costs you something. Brands want to have a propose that makes them money. Life-changing creativity isn’t always about that. 


How would you define it? Leave your ideas in the comments.

About the Author:

As Managing Director of Innovation for Syneos Health Communications, Leigh is responsible for shaping the company’s perspective on the next era of healthcare marketing. Through thought leadership, strategic innovation workshops and new products and capabilities, Leigh focuses on identifying marketing approaches that will fuel that new era and generate significant growth for clients. Leigh has worked with Fortune 1000 companies to craft their digital, mobile, social and CRM strategies for over 17 years. She’s worked for category-leading agencies in retail, public affairs, B2B technology, and higher education. Prior to moving to Syneos Health Communications, she had several leadership roles at one of our agencies, GSW. There, she founded an innovation practice fueled by the zeitgeist and spearheaded digital and innovation thinking across the business. Leigh has taken a special interest in complex healthcare products that can change lives in meaningful ways. She was recently a strategic lead on the 3rd largest launch in pharmaceutical history: Tecfidera. Before that she had keys roles with Eli Lilly Oncology, Abbott Nutrition, Amgen Cardiovascular, and Eli Lilly Diabetes. A critical part of Leigh’s work is trends and new ideas. Every year, she convenes a group of trend watchers from across our global network to identify the shifts most critical to healthcare marketers. Leigh is a sought-after writer and speaker. Recognized as one of the most inspiring people in the pharmaceutical industry by PharmaVoice, Leigh also was recognized as a Rising Star by the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association (HBA) for her overt passion, industry thought leadership and significant contributions in new business, strategy and mentoring.