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.”


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.”


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’.


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.


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!

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