'When it comes to ideas we are not mov­ing for­ward'

The Mid­dle East and North Africa may have won more Cannes Li­ons than ever be­fore, but does this fact help gloss over re­gional de­fi­cien­cies?

ArabAd - - CONTENTS -

It’s hard to shake off a sense of dis­ap­point­ment with this year’s Cannes Li­ons In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val of Cre­ativ­ity. The re­gion may have won more awards than ever be­fore, but there were fewer golds and no ti­ta­ni­ums. There is a marked sense of be­ing un­der­whelmed.

The to­tal awards haul was 39, sur­pass­ing last year’s 26 and the pre­vi­ous high point of 31 in 2013. But with only three golds com­pared with last year’s four and the five won in 2015, can this year’s fes­ti­val be classed a suc­cess?

Not if you com­pare it with 2015, the year of the first ti­ta­nium for Egypt, the first gold for Kuwait, and a dou­ble gold in the au­gu­ral glass cat­e­gory. Per­haps more sig­nif­i­cantly, there were no wins at all this year in the in­te­grated, digital craft, cre­ative data and mobile cat­e­gories.

That said, a more var­ied ar­ray of agen­cies won, in­di­cat­ing that the field of contenders is ex­pand­ing away from the core of tra­di­tional win­ners. Leo Bur­nett, Im­pact BBDO, Y&R Dubai, FP7 and Memac Ogilvy will be pleased in some way with their per­for­mances, but oth­ers less so. Most no­tably J.wal­ter Thomp­son, which won noth­ing af­ter pre­vi­ous good years.

Of the three golds, it was ar­guably only FP7/CAI’S ‘The line-up song’ for Coca-cola that caught the imag­i­na­tion. The other two – for Memac Ogilvy and ‘Pota­toes on Mars’ in Li­ons Health, and Y&R Dubai for ‘One book for peace’ in de­sign – de­pended largely on col­lab­o­ra­tion with oth­ers.

“The Cannes Li­ons this year was a ‘best of’ for our re­gion in terms of the num­ber of Li­ons you will re­ceive later by courier,” says

Bechara Mouzan­nar, chief cre­ative of­fi­cer at Publi­cis Com­mu­ni­ca­tions MEA, which in­cludes Leo Bur­nett, Saatchi & Saatchi and Publi­cis Mid­dle East. “But it was def­i­nitely not the best in terms of the num­ber of Li­ons that you bring back home in your lug­gage.

“In terms of the con­ver­sion rate from en­tries to short­list, 2017 was one of the worst ever, which sends us all a sig­nal that says ‘be hum­ble about your wins’. Take your work on your brands up to the next level of con­tem­po­rary res­o­nance.

“Al­though the re­gion was ab­sent from five cat­e­gories that in­clude ti­ta­nium and

In terms of the con­ver­sion rate from en­tries to short­list, 2017 was one of the worst ever, which sends us all a sig­nal that says ‘be hum­ble about your wins’. Take your work on your brands up to the next level of con­tem­po­rary res­o­nance. Bechara Mouzan­nar CCO Publi­cis Com­mu­ni­ca­tions MEA

The qual­ity of work this year was very high across all cat­e­gories and our re­gion was com­pet­ing against some re­ally strong work. Kalpesh Patankar ECD Y&R Dubai

in­te­grated, the fact that it was recog­nised in all the other cat­e­gories was quite an achieve­ment, es­pe­cially in a year that has not been the most cre­ative year for our in­dus­try in the re­gion. Al­most 95 per cent of the cam­paigns that won at the Dubai Lynx did not im­press the Cannes ju­rors. Most of the wins for the re­gion came from cam­paigns that have started their an­nual awards tour on the Prom­e­nade de la Croisette. The re­al­ity is that the bar of ex­cel­lence was ex­tremely high this year in al­most ev­ery cat­e­gory.”

Kalpesh Patankar, ex­ec­u­tive cre­ative di­rec­tor of Y&R Dubai, agrees. “The qual­ity of work this year was very high across all cat­e­gories and our re­gion was com­pet­ing against some re­ally strong work,” he says. “While there have been fewer golds and no ti­ta­nium, the one thing that has been con­stant is im­prove­ment. And that is what we have seen this year.

“In fact, I think the steady im­prove­ment is an indicator of bet­ter things to come. The good thing I’ve no­ticed over the past few years is that the re­gion is evolv­ing, get­ting recog­nised in many dif­fer­ent, new cat­e­gories like in­no­va­tion and prod­uct de­sign. Our work needs to be seen by the world and we need sup­port in that as­pect from all media part­ners. Good work needs to be recog­nised and spo­ken about. It al­ways helps when the work is more fa­mil­iar to ev­ery­one.”

How­ever, as Mouzan­nar al­ludes to, this

was not a clas­sic year. With a poor con­ver­sion rate and fail­ure to gain ground in im­por­tant ar­eas such as digital craft, there are signs that the re­gion is floun­der­ing. “While some agen­cies have ex­celled in their media se­lec­tion, most still seem to be stuck in the tra­di­tional pond,” says Alok Gad­kar, gen­eral man­ager and ex­ec­u­tive cre­ative di­rec­tor at The Clas­sic Part­ner­ship Ad­ver­tis­ing. “Cy­ber, mobile, cre­ative data or digital craft still seem to be far, far away from the line of vi­sion for most cre­ative agen­cies in the re­gion.”

“Is it a year we would like to re­peat again?” asks Ramzi Moutran, ex­ec­u­tive cre­ative di­rec­tor at Memac Ogilvy Dubai, who left the agency on ‘sab­bat­i­cal’ shortly af­ter Cannes. “I think not. There were only three gold Li­ons won. No grand prix, no ti­ta­nium, and in many cat­e­gories we did not

get any­thing. Shock­ingly in mobile, digital craft and cre­ative data we did not get a sin­gle Lion. These are the cat­e­gories of the fu­ture and I fear we are be­ing left be­hind the rest of the world. I am not say­ing we are in a bad place, be­cause we are not as a in­dus­try. Af­ter all, the in­dus­try is do­ing well de­spite all its chal­lenges.

“But when it comes to our ideas we are not mov­ing for­ward enough. We are still do­ing things the way we al­ways have. Our best ideas are still not for our big­gest clients. Our clients are still not de­mand­ing our best ideas on their big­gest cam­paigns. Un­for­tu­nately, we are still do­ing way too much pro bono work for char­i­ties.”

He adds: “What I did no­tice in Cannes this year, more than pre­vi­ous years, was the strength of client/agency re­la­tion­ships by many of the big win­ning agen­cies. We could see these part­ner­ships cel­e­brat­ing on stage to­gether and up and down the Croisette all week. Most of the big win­ners of the year, like Burger King’s many amaz­ing brave ideas or Meet Gra­ham and that im­age you can not for­get, or #Fear­less­girl, which is now a per­ma­nent part of New York’s Wall Street.

“The big ideas for big brands come from amaz­ing client/agency re­la­tion­ships based on trust. I feel this is what we are miss­ing. We gen­er­ally don’t have good enough re­la­tions and in turn good enough trust to push our work for from a sil­ver to a gold… or even to the ever elu­sive grand prix which the Mid­dle East is still miss­ing.”

As with much of the talk sur­round­ing Publi­cis’ with­drawal from Cannes and all other awards next year, there is per­sis­tent and ris­ing dis­il­lu­sion­ment with the fes­ti­val it­self. Even Patankar be­lieves that the “Snapchat Fer­ris wheel was just not a good idea”, while Mouzan­nar now views much of Cannes as akin to Dis­ney­land.

“While the awards cer­e­monies were in­ter­est­ing and in­spir­ing, cel­e­brat­ing the best cre­ativ­ity in the world, the rest of the fes­ti­val has be­come, year-on-year, more noisy in its scope, more flashy in its tricks and par­ties, more in­con­sis­tent in the value of the ed­u­ca­tional con­tent on stage, in spite of the wide ver­sa­til­ity of great guest speak­ers,” says Mouzan­nar. “The whole buzz is get­ting less spon­ta­neous. Ev­ery speaker sells his or her own brand or brands, which makes very few talks re­ally in­spi­ra­tional.

“By mix­ing un­der the ban­ner of cre­ativ­ity tech com­pa­nies, the com­mu­ni­ca­tions in­dus­try at large, pharma com­mu­ni­ca­tions, and the huge mu­sic and en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­tries, the Cannes Li­ons is be­com­ing Dis­ney­land-sur-mer, with four dif­fer­ent magic worlds and at­trac­tions, ho­tels and fast tracks, shops that sell teddy Li­ons, and a Snapchat yel­low wheel pro­ject­ing its ro­tat­ing shadow on the fa­mous red car­pet stairs. May the Cannes Li­ons ac­cept to be, again, only the Cannes Li­ons.”

While some agen­cies have ex­celled in their media se­lec­tion, most still seem to be stuck in the tra­di­tional pond. Alok Gad­kar GM & ECD The Clas­sic Part­ner­ship Ad­ver­tis­ing Dubai Is it a year we would like to re­peat again? I think not… Ramzi Moutran ECD Memac Ogilvy Dubai

Tarek Mik­nas of FP7 - Dubai

Y&R Dubai Team

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Bahrain

© PressReader. All rights reserved.