ANOTHER LION HUNT BEGINS!
Can India better its all-time best tally of 40 metals in 2017 at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this year?
Once again, all roads lead to the French Riviera where the Indian advertising folks will be under immense pressure to win big, given India’s best ever haul of 40 metals at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in 2017. Last year, India had not only bagged 40 metals in all, but also a Grand Prix for McCann Worldgroup’s ‘Immunity Charm’ campaign, at Cannes. In the past three years, India’s metal tally has been on an upward trajectory, from a dismal 13 Lions in 2015 to 27 in 2016 and 40 last year. One has every reason to believe that the momentum will be kept up. In 2017, India sent 1,227 entries to Cannes and had a conversion rate of 3.25%. In recent years, Indian creatives have won Lions in Film, Film Craft, Direct, Design, Health and Glass Lion categories. In fact, Indian agencies have won Glass Lions every year since the category was launched, including the Grand Prix for the first two years. However, there are also categories such as Mobile, in which India has not picked up a single Lion in three years.
Talking about where Indian entries fall short, Senthil Kumar, CCO, J Walter Thompson, who is also on the Film Lions jury, says, “We did win India’s first Mobile Lion with Nike Make Every Yard Count but over the last few years we have not been successful in Mobile because the world has moved ahead far more rapidly than us in the amplification of the idea using mobile technology while we are still stuck in the past. We have to invent new technologies and write new codes and create new ways of content consumption that makes our work stand out in the Mobile medium. Other categories in which we can do better are Innovation Lions, Entertainment Lions and the Titanium Lions. This year, the Cannes Lions team has changed many things for the good of the festival and streamlined the categories under nine heads - Reach, Communication, Craft, Experience, Innovation, Impact, Good, Entertainment and Health - with sub categories under each.”
‘WE NEED TO JUDGE AS INDIANS’
It is often said that Indian creatives don’t excel at packaging their entries well and lack presentation skills. Rahul Mathew, National Creative Director, DDB Mudra, whose agency is sending two campaigns to Cannes this year, agrees: “Our areas of improvement broadly lie in two buckets - the packaging and the judging. Our ideas are often world beating ones. But our thinking is often undone by the execution of our case studies. In spite of being a nation of story-tellers, our case studies look and sound like boring sermons. Also the time we put into packaging is abysmally low. Here is where we should really ape some of the other countries. They put in as much time in the crafting of the case, as they do in the crafting of the idea.”
Elaborating on the second shortcoming, he says, “The reason why Cannes picks jurors from across the world is so that there is a representation for the country or the region in the judging room. We can really improve as jurors on this front. Our representation is often agency first, network next and country last. For India to win more, we need to judge more as Indians.” This year, only 10 jury members have been picked from India, the number having gone down gradually each year from 2015, when the Cannes Lions had 13 Indian jurors.
Talking of packaging ideas well, Kumar says, “While we stop at making a film or a radio spot or an outdoor execution, because that’s what the client has asked for, I think it’s important to package the idea and push it from good to greatness with a stunning case study that brings the idea alive beyond the advertising and evokes a more unanimous and universal response from the global jury that is made up of all nationalities. Also, as many of our entries are in Indian languages, it’s unfortunate that we depend on subtitles and hope that nothing is lost in translation.”
CAUTION BEFORE CREATIVITY
Entering work at Cannes has always been an expensive affair. Plus 2017 saw ad budgets being slashed owing to the impact of demonetization and GST being implemented in India. Will that hit the number of entries being sent to Cannes this year? Addressing the concern, Ishteyaque Amjad, VP, Public Affairs and Communications, Coca-Cola, India and
South West Asia – who is on the jury for PR Lions - says, “It’s a typical cycle that happens in any economy. I have seen that happening across the world in different economies. They have had good years, not only for business, but in general when there are more and more campaigns coming out of brands. And then there are years which are a little bit cold from that perspective. It’s very normal, because that’s the cycle every business goes through. While such trends come and go, it will reflect on the number of entries sent.”
Praful Akali, MD & Founder of Medulla Communications, an agency that won many awards last year, is only sending one entry to Cannes in the Creative Effectiveness category. Says Akali, “We have been very cautious about how much we are investing in awards. And it has been one of the worst years ever in advertising, so everyone has been focusing on how to retain clients and not awards.” Two other promising entries in the Creative Effectiveness category are Ogilvy’s ‘Savlon Healthy Hands Chalk Sticks’ and BBDO India’s ‘Mirinda Release the Pressure’.
A SIMPLER FEST THIS TIME
Pressure from advertising giants like WPP and Publicis has resulted in a massive overhaul of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Sir Martin Sorrell, erstwhile head of WPP, had last year questioned the viability of holding the festival in Cannes, an expensive place, and suggested Bangalore as one of the alternatives, saying how costly it had become to send a delegate to Cannes. While the venue has not moved, this year the festival will run for just five days, from Monday, June 18 to Friday, June 22, 2018, as opposed to eight days earlier. Other major changes include removal of Cyber, Integrated and Promo Lions and 120 sub-categories in the awards structure. Besides, the Craft categories within Print, Outdoor and Design will be removed from their respective Lions to be judged by a specialist Industry Craft jury. Also, there is a new entry cap, which means that each piece of work can only be entered for a maximum of six Lions.
MAKING INDIA PROUD
The 65th year of the Cannes Lions gives the Indian ad fraternity much reason to celebrate as brothers Piyush Pandey and Prasoon Pandey will be presented with the Lion of St. Mark award at the closing ceremony of the festival. The Lion of St Mark recognizes those who have made a significant and outstanding contribution to creativity and the Pandey brothers are the first Asians to be conferred this award. While these two admen have undoubtedly made the world pay attention to creativity in India, the question is, will the 2018 awards results do something similar for the country, i.e., give India something to be proud of? Let’s hope so, with fingers crossed!