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The Cannes Contenders

BY Arka Roy Chowdhury Anupama Sajeet

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VMLY&R India

Unipads: Tea Cycle

The cultural taboo around menstruation means young women in India go through their cycle without really knowing what their bodies are going through. This lack of information perpetuates a preventable cycle of silence and shame, which leads to 23% of girls to drop out of school when they begin to menstruate. VMLY&R India’s Tea Cycle offers a 360 calendar with 28 unique tea blends – one for each day of their period, opening up the conversation to guide them through each day of their menstruation.

Maxx Flash: Arogya Bindu

Malaria and Dengue are two of the largest contributors to India’s mortality rate of children under the age of 5. Almost 50% of all these deaths are reported from tribal settlements that fall in lower economic groups. The objective was to get mothers to adopt the habit of using a mosquito-repellent to protect their babies without changing their traditions. The campaign introduced a solution in two states reaching around 50,000 mothers at a minimal cost of 17.28 INR per family.

“Taboos around menstruation run deep in many parts of India and the rest of Asia. Through our partnership with Unipads, we were able to start a conversation to break these taboos last year, and we were keen to continue it through education. Mothers across India believe that applying a ‘Kala Teeka’ or ‘Bindu’ (kohl dot) to their newborns will protect them from diseases, deaths and evil spirits. Instead of challenging an age-old tradition, we reinvented it to create a mosquito-repelling formula.”

Mukund Olety
Chief Creative Officer, VMLY&R India

L&K Saatchi and Saatchi

Zepto – Indian Stretchable Time

Zepto, a grocery retailer known for its prompt delivery, wanted to use the Indian Premier League 2022 to build brand salience. The biggest challenge facing the brand was to stand out in the IPL clutter, particularly against heavy hitters like Swiggy, Cred and Spotify. To achieve this, L&K Saatchi and Saatchi roped in iconic Indian singers Usha Uthup, Shankar Mahadevan, and Kailash Kher.

“We’re entering the Zepto campaign in the Film, Cultural Insight, and Casting categories. The campaign has had an excellent run at the shows thus far, winning metal at Spikes and Adfest, and has been shortlisted at the One Show and D&AD. We’re hoping that our good form continues at Cannes.”

Kartik Smetacek
Jt. NCD, L&K Saatchi and Saatchi

^ a t o m Network

Reliance General Insurance: EmerJersey

Every year, millions in Mumbai assemble to witness one of the most vibrant and unique festive sports – Dahi Handi. It is often considered as challenging as rock climbing, if not more. Thousands get injured, and hundreds of players die in the process, without timely medical care. That’s where the EmerJersey comes in – custom-made team jerseys with the wearer’s blood group printed on it, along with other crucial medical information printed on the washing instructions’ tag.

Reliance General Insurance – The D Series Project

According to statistics, every year nearly 5 lakh people die due to non-availability of organs in India. It is said that even if one person donates all organs, it can save up to 8 lives. But only around 0.01% Indians donate organs after death. So what better way to get people’s attention, than when they are actually hearing about organs? Based on search keywords of ‘organs’ like ‘heart’, ‘eyes’, ‘aankh’ or ‘dil’ in song titles, The D series ads play before the searched song, urging the viewer to head to a microsite to pledge to donate their organs.

“Both of our campaigns have novelty. Turning festive sports jerseys into unique medical records is more than just an advertising idea. It is the new hack to speed up medical procedures. Apart from conveying the brand core, it has created a difference in so many lives. The D-Series project is a beautiful confluence of creativity and media. It is one of those ideas that was staring at us. Every 3rd song on this planet has some organ in it. We turned those songs into an organ donation drive. Taking the subject beyond World Organ Donation Day.”

Yash Kulshresth
CCO, ^ a t o m network

FCB Group India

FCB Kinnect HDFC Bank: Vigil Aunty

Indians are known to be frugal with their money. Ironically, a survey indicated that 42% of Indians experienced financial fraud. Reason? There’s no way to keep up with the growing ways of con. By the time we learn to prevent one fraud, fraudsters introduce two new ones. People needed someone who could stop them every time they acted dumb around their own money. So in comes the protector against all frauds, Vigil Aunty, who is the first ever anti-fraud influencer.

FCB Kinnect Smart Bazaar: Second Question

Durga Pujo, a centuries’ old Indian festival, is celebrated by 104+ million people in India alone. The idols venerated in the celebrations are considered incomplete if made without the soil freely given by sex workers. While they’re needed to make the idol sacred with the given soil, they’re considered impure to attend the celebrations. The advertisement highlights this injustice.

FCB Kinnect Google Cloud: Hum Banayenge

In 2022, India celebrated its 75th year of Independence, marking the beginning of a national movement of self-reliant nation-building. Self-reliance is a spirit that Google Cloud shares with its customers, i.e. Indian companies, and this led to the idea of brand-building within the sentiment of nation-building. Through a series of films, we see stories of struggle and ingenuity of Indian entrepreneurs, and how the brand is a proud partner in creating innovative and effective solutions.

FCB Interface Navneet Education: Tr. for Teacher

The Indian school education system is one of the largest in the world, however, school teachers are severely undervalued, many working without contracts, extremely low salaries, and no health or maternity leave benefits. On Teacher’s Day 2022, Navneet Education Ltd. celebrated teachers and recognized their role in shaping the country with a social experiment film. The film invited the country to reflect on the value of teachers and asked people to sign a petition on change.org to make Tr. the official title for teachers.

FCB India Stir Magazine: Hair and Her, Untangling the Politics of Hair

Since time immemorial, a woman’s hair has been intertwined with religion, culture, sexuality, and patriarchy, binding her to society’s rules. The protests in Iran highlighted this injustice, bringing support from countries across the world, except India that chose to remain silent. This campaign aims to support the women of Iran by bringing their plight close to home and heart, awakening Indian women to the truth that Iran’s issue is not Iran’s alone, but every woman’s issue.

“I am happy with the submissions from the FCB Group India for our prestigious clients Google, Navneet, HDFC Bank, and Smart Bazaar. Also, I am very proud of FCB India’s work with Stir Magazine for the campaign ‘Untangling the Politics of Hair,’ where we have highlighted the age-old patriarchy observed in various cultures across the globe. Each year, we strive to showcase the brilliance within our teams at FCB and submit work from across industries and crafts. I eagerly await the festival and anticipate FCB maintaining its winning streak.”

Rohit Ohri
Chairman and CEO, FCB Group India


Spotify & Sony Music: The Unheard Playlist

On International Women’s Day, Spotify & Sony Music wanted to highlight the under-representation of women singers in the Indian music industry, and drive conversations. ‘The Unheard Playlist’ on Spotify featured the most popular Indian duet songs in Hindi and regional languages, but with a twist. The female vocals were omitted from the duets. As people were left wondering what they just heard, a message by the respective female artist said – “Couldn’t hear my voice? Felt strange hearing my song without my voice? Just like this track is incomplete without the female voice, the Indian music industry is incomplete without women artists. This Women’s Day, spread our songs, support women artists, make us heard.”

Bharat Matrimony: My Perfect Valentine

Bharat Matrimony, an online matrimony service in India, got the perfect Valetine’s Day campaign in the form of an artifical influencer. Aditya Iyer, created by AI tools such as ChatGPT and Midjourney stayed on Instagram for 10 days. This perfect man became quite popular until on February 14 it was revealed that he is the work of AI. So there is no perfect person, there is someone perfect for you, waiting to be found on Bharat Matrimony.

“At the launch of Wondrlab we had defined the agency as ‘platform first.’ The Spotify creative is the best possible example of a ‘platform first’ work, and the scale of the campaign shines. The AI Valentine campaign marked a significant milestone by creating India’s first fully AI-generated virtual influencer. More importantly, the timing and context of the campaign, just days after Eon Musk’s tweet, latching on to the conversations and uproar over ChatGPT, made it a campaign that was truly a part of and created by culture.”

Amit Akali
Co-founder & CCO, Wondrlab

MullenLowe Lintas Group

Infosys: A boy with a rainbow heart

For a brand such as Infosys, which is spread across the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East, and Africa, gender equality and inclusivity are paramount. The ongoing campaign is aimed to create a safe and inclusive environment for employees to express themselves freely and without fear of discrimination. The heart is a universal symbol of love, and it doesn’t matter what colour or sexual identity it represents. The ‘Boy with a Rainbow Heart’ was born with this message in mind.

VIM: Vim Black

One of the most fascinating parts of ‘lockdown life’ during the days of COVID was house chores shared equally among all members of the family. But we always had that one person who bragged about this rather than just acknowledging that chores are a way of life for everyone. The campaign tried to address and change this mindset in a quirky, tongue-in-cheek way where viewers got a different perspective. The brand came up with a special edition of Vim Liquid for men called Vim Black.

“On occasions, when men do household chores, they consider their contribution a favour rather than their responsibility. We wanted to change the narrative and encourage men to take ownership of their chores. Rather than approach this head on, we took a subversive approach to tell men that they too belong equally at the sink.”

Prateek Bhardwaj
CCO and Head of Creative, Lowe LIntas India

LIFEBUOY: Gift of the Ganga

Gift of the Ganga is a unique Minecraft game aiming to turn germ-breeding pollution into germ-protection. Gamers were invited to fish out plastic pollution from the mighty river recreated in the metaverse. In exchange, Lifebuoy cleared an equivalent or more amount from the actual river and up-cycled to build hand washing stations for underserved schools. The objective of the campaign was to educate people on disease prevention, and spread the message about the importance of hygiene, while also highlighting the importance of waste segregation and its up-cycling.

Future Generali: Redefine Family

To further the goal of equity, diversity, and inclusivity within the organization, Future Generali launched the Redefine Family campaign. Through this campaign the group included the LGBTQIA+ community in insurance schemes, openly supporting their partners in sickness and in health. The campaign aimed to be where the most vulnerable customers are, ensuring that its insurance products reflect the commitment to inclusivity and support for the LGBTQIA+ community.

ABSOLUT: #AbsolutAlly

The ad campaign saw 10 members from the LGBTQIA+ community recount stories from their hurtful past. They had a simple yet powerful advice for viewers – become more sensitive allies. The films find inspiration from different personalities and icons from the LGBTQIA+ community who share experiences from their lives for everyone to understand. Viewers learn the appropriate way to have conversations whenever talking to an individual from the LGBTQIA+ community, and the film teaches us, ‘How to be an Ally’.


Mortein: Suraksha Ka Teeka

Mortein introduced ‘Suraksha Ka Teeka’ by reformulating the traditional Teeka with Lemon Eucalyptus oil, thus creating a mosquito repellent in disguise. Its packaging was designed using Aipan Folk Art, as it is considered to ward-off the evil-eye. The campaign roped in Maalish Ladies in Bareilly, who demonstrated the use, educated families, and delivered the pack to mothers. A door-to-door campaign was rolled out through volunteers and health workers.

Vedantu: The Everything Book

Vedantu, India’s leading e-learning portal partnered with Benlycos to democratise education, and created ‘The Everything Book.’ The campaign was ideated based on the fact that 80% of kids in rural India don’t have access to quality education, and high-speed internet could fix this. However, basic connectivity is an issue. The campaign patented portable network signal aggregator, a cloud-based AI packet broadcaster and assembler service that groups multiple data blocks from weak 2G mobile networks and combines them to provide one strong hyperspot.

TVS: The Responsible Manhole

The campaign addressed the issue of open manholes in Indian coastal cities like Mumbai that take a life every 12 hours. It led to the development of a low-cost, easily scalable 3D-printed device to make Mumbai’s streets safer. The device rises up to 5 ft. when a manhole cover is dislodged on a flooded street. LED lights and a loud buzzer alert passers-by of the danger, as a specially designed mobile app alerts the municipality in real-time about the geo-location of the open manhole.

Vice Media: The Unfiltered History Tour

The widely appreciated ‘The Unfiltered History Tour’ is a secret tour of the British Museum’s stolen artefacts via AR and immersive podcasts. While the Museum’s narrative portrayed the colonies as helpless in the face of British aggression, AR in smartphones was used for the first time to tell history from the perspective of the colonies. Global audiences could remotely unfilter history through a podcast series on the Tour’s website.

“We at denstu constantly strive to raise the standard by utilising cutting-edge modern creativity to produce work that has the potential to influence the future in the ever-changing world of advertising. Like every year, we are giving it our all this time, and the team is excited to see what comes next.”

Gurbaksh Singh
Chief Innovation Officer, Dentsu Creative India

“We are very excited about the projects. It is years of hard work that have made these projects come alive as genuine examples of modern creativity, and we are very proud of them. ‘The Everything Book’ by Vedantu is a two-year project that genuinely bridges the education gap that rural children face. The ‘Suraksha ka Teeka’ campaign took us more than one and a half years to create. It amplifies and enhances an already existing tradition that thousands of mothers in India follow, and gives it an added protection against malaria.”

Aalap Desai
Chief Creative Officer, Creative Experience, West, Dentsu Creative India

Leo Burnett

Airtel 175 Replayed

In 1983, Kapil Dev scored a whopping 175 runs in a crucial Cricket World Cup match, thus creating a world record. But a BBC strike deprived us of this historic moment, no one could witness it. Airtel decided to recreate this match in minute detail and broadcast it in a never-seen-before way with 5G. With just three images and more than 1000 data points, interviews, and inputs from the former player himself, the glorious moment was successfully recreated.

Oreo: #BringBack2011

When Oreo, much like other non-sponsors were not legally allowed to use the term ‘World Cup’ in their Cricket World Cup season advertising, Leo Burnett found a solution in a strange coincidence. Oreo launched in India in 2011, a year when India had won the cup. So it had decided to launch Oreo for the first time ever, again, with the hope that India will win the world cup, again. The former World Cup winning captain MS Dhoni was seen asking India to #BringBack2011, and the entire country joined in.

P&G Whisper: The Missing Chapter

Whisper, India’s largest sanitary napkin brand, has been working with schools for years to normalise menstruation. But the national school board, bound by taboo, had never included a chapter on menstruation. The acclaimed campaign created a red paper that explained the simple biology behind periods. The chapter was featured on the front page of newspapers, on prime-time news, and painted on school walls. In a historic decision, the government committed to add the chapter on periods in school textbooks.

Lay’s: Smart Farm

Unpredictable climate change has led to Indian farmers losing $5.1Bn worth of crop. The strategy here was to use present predictive insights to transform traditional Indian agricultural practices to climate-smart algorithmically-mediated practices. The campaign saw Lay’s partnering with Cropin, an AgTech provider to create Smart Farm. It is a real-time monitoring system that issues early warnings. These warnings are simplified for farmers in the form of colour codes and shared on their smartphones- empowering them with predictive intelligence.

Burger King: The Great Celebrity Hack

When Burger King wanted a big Bollywood celebrity for the launch of its Rs. 50 Stunner Menu, it partnered with India’s heartthrob, Hrithik Roshan, but with a twist. The brand tricked the nation into believing that Hrithik promoted The Stunner Menu unknowingly. In the ad we can see Burger King employees disguised as paparazzi, snapping the star against an image of The Stunner Menu. The Great Celebrity Hack became the most talked-about campaign by Burger King India, causing millions to line up outside the stores.

LAY’S: The Biochar Project

Crop residue burning is an integral part of farming in India as it readies the fields for the next crop cycle. This leads to the burning of +27mn tonnes of stubble every year in north Indian states alone. The campaign saw Lay’s partner with Punjab Agricultural University in the creation of an earthen kiln for controlled burning. The incomplete combustion of stubble creates Biochar, a charred, carbon-rich soil amendment that not only remediates stubble burning but also redresses its impact by creating a carbon rich bio-fertilizer.

DDB Mudra

MTV: BotHard

To get a Bollywood music-obsessed country interested in rap, DDB Mudra and MTV built an AI-based rapper BotHard. The app enabled interactivity by involving people in experiencing the rap scene. It is built on the GPT3 platform, and can imitate the rhyme schemes and patterns used by various rappers. When a prompt is given to it, the lyrics generated by BotHard are then converted into vocals using a text-to-speech engine and added to a rap beat. The campaign led MTV Hustle Season 2.0 gaining over 2 billion views.

Indeed: The Hire

Indeed faced the challenge of building awareness in the Indian market as a relatively new player in the cluttered sector. To address this issue, Indeed and DDB Mudra created a series of three films layered with humour, showcasing the risks of casual hiring practices through recommendations. The campaign also included contextually targeted ads, which resulted in 168,000 visits to the employer page on Indeed and 55 million unique audiences.

BGMI: Machine-gun Mouth

BGMI, a leading Battle-Royale game in India tackled negative perceptions and unhealthy gaming practices associated with gaming culture by launching this campaign. The campaign engaged multiple policymakers, influencers, friends, and parents to create a holistic and non-linear approach to the solution. As a result, 90% of parents shifted positively towards the game, and 87% felt more empowered, resulting in 4M+ new gamers added to the community. The brand’s efforts also improved daily downloads and won the trust of 4M+ parents.

“This is the kind of creativity we believe in — work that helps build brands, that helps deliver disproportionate long-term results and drive growth, and change meaningfully for clients and culture. So, we are definitely looking at such work for Stayfree, McDonald’s. We have representation in digital and technology-led categories as well with perhaps the country’s first serious push with GPT technology for MTV Hustle. Then there’s work that is more fundamental, relying on purchase that are not necessarily new, but disruptive in a brave and meaningful way.”

Aditya Kanthy
CEO & MD, DDB Mudra Group

Havas Life Sorento the healthcare vertical of Havas Group India

American Oncology Institute: #ThePinkRibbonCollection

The awareness surrounding breast cancer is at an all-time high, and yet in India, breast cancer cases keep rising. The campaign put awareness into action by changing the medium, and engaged women in the moment when they were most open to the idea of breast self-examination. The campaign reached out to more than 3.2 million people and made its way into women’s closets.

“We realised that while women are aware of the ‘6-steps,’ they rarely follow up on it, owing to busy schedules or general lack of concern. As a result, we saw it as a challenge to think outside the box. It is critical that breast health extends beyond just discussion, and with the Breast Cancer Push Away Bra, we aimed to do it in a way that would attract the most eyeballs and have greater impact.”

Sangeeta Barde
CEO - Havas Life Sorento & Regional Head - Havas Health & You Middle East

BBDO India

Ariel: Silent Separation #ShareTheLoad

While the divorce rate in India is only 1%, 65% of women feel an emotional distance from their spouse, and 81% of women feel that unequal distribution of chores has affected their relationship over time. To make men aware and act, Ariel launched a film that introduced the term ‘Silent Separation.’ It refers to the emotional distance that creeps into marriage because of inequality at home. With this, Ariel urges men to see the signs and share the load.

Ariel: See Equal #ShareTheLoad

See Equal #ShareTheLoad is a campaign that was celebrated at Cannes 2022 with a Lion and 4 shortlists, and is invited for creative effectiveness this year. A World Economic Forum report says gender equality is 135 years away, which means no woman alive will see gender parity in her lifetime. To accelerate the pace of change, Ariel took a more defiant stand. See Equal #ShareTheLoad was a bold new tone that triggered uncomfortable conversations. For the first time, Ariel changed the names on its packs with names of hundreds of Indian men.

WhatsApp: Scam Se Bacho

In India, digital payment scams are valued at 1.55 billion dollars. Their biggest victims? Our beloved baby boomers. Payments on WhatsApp decided to step-in and help the older generation by recreating one of the most iconic Bollywood songs from the ‘70s, turning it into a melodic lesson about digital payment safety. The song chosen was 'Aye Bhai Zara Dekh Ke Chalo.' The lyrics were re-written telling people to look again and be mindful of digital payment scams. The video perfectly captured rampant scams currently affecting the target audience.

Ariel: See Equal #ShareTheLoad Long-term

Ariel’s #ShareTheLoad is the longest running movement against gender inequality at home by a brand. In 2015 the brand asked, ‘Is laundry only a woman’s job?’ In 2016, Ariel addressed the inequality in an apology letter. In 2018, the brand asked, ‘are we teaching our sons, what we’ve been teaching our daughters?’ Then in 2020, it reported that 71% of Indian women sleep less than men, due to unequal distribution of household chores. In 2022, the wife in the brand film confronted her husband and asked him why men like him can share the load with other men but not with their wives. Are women not their equals?

Ralco Tyres: #NoPressureDelivery

Ralco Tyres have been highlighting the capability of their tyres that have gone through numerous ‘Pressure Tests’. At the same time, food and delivery apps have been reducing the delivery time to as low as 10-minutes to beat competition, adding more pressure on the delivery riders. This led to the core thought of our next socially relevant message, ‘Pressure is meant for tyres, not people.’ Ralco Tyres introduced a simple action for the users of these delivery apps to reduce the 10-min delivery pressure on the delivery riders. In the delivery instruction section of the app, users were urged to add the words, ‘No Pressure Delivery’. This way the riders get to know that they needn’t rush and risk their lives to deliver the order within 10-minutes.

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