Live from Cannes Lions Health: When we heard one of our favorite Syneos Health alums was presenting at Cannes Lions, we knew we had to be there. Frank Mazzola is now the Chief Creative Officer at 21GRAMS. He was joined by Suha Patel, Marketing Principal at Genentech, to take us into a bingeable campaign created for people living with hemophilia.

Here’s what we know about those people: it’s more than just bleeding. Hemophilia impacts huge parts of their lives, creating issues from depression to guilt to financial pressure to strained relationships. And, not just for the people living with the disease, but all the people around them who love them.

This community knows the disease. Genentech wanted to talk about something different: those real-life issues not enough people were addressing. 

The kind of brief you might expect here: make a flashcard or a website. Instead, to breakthrough, Genentech asked the team to break the ice. 

Mazzola said they started by thinking about the customer: young men who give a lot of life to their disease and like to consume information on their screens. They’re much more likely to consume video on those screens than other demographics. Then, they dug into the competition for a topic like this: the skip ad button and topic avoidance, these just aren’t issues people want to talk about.

How do you make those uncomfortable issues mainstream? The same way so many industries have before us: make a show, make people laugh to take an issue from isolation to everyday conversation. 

The show: Challenge Accepted. As the trailer says, “It’s a series about something everyone thinks about but not everyone talks about. Bring your hemophilia A game .” It’s hosted by a magician and includes real patients and celebrity coaches. Each of the six 15-minute episodes are real and relatable. And, we dare you not to laugh out loud watching them. 

The production wasn’t easy. From the worst rain storms in California in the last decade to scheduling real patients with real lives, the team will have stories from this one for years. But, what Patel said is that one of the hardest things was being the first. She had to decide every morning, “do I want to be courageous or comfortable?” If she wanted to be comfortable, she’d make a brochure. To be courageous, she had to take the entire company and community on a journey, to keep them part of the process at each key point along the way. 

About the Author:

As Managing Director of Innovation and Insights for Syneos Health Communications, Leigh is responsible for building and scaling a global team of healthcare experts who together help life science leaders better understand the complex lives, influences and expectations of their customers. Specifically, they uncover actionable insights that fuel empathy and creativity; lead co-creation events that let marketers learn from peers, trends, and new possibilities; and help clients identify the most valuable and useful new customer experiences to create.

Leigh has worked with Fortune 1000 companies to craft their digital, mobile, social and CRM strategies for nearly 20 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 held several leadership roles at our largest agency, 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. This year, she led over 250 experts to experts to focus on the most important changes in the commercial, consumer, marketing, digital and healthcare landscapes. (See reports at

Leigh is a sought-after writer and speaker. Recognized as one of the most inspiring people in the pharmaceutical industry by PharmaVoice and Top 10 Innovation Catalysts of 2017 by MM&M, 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.