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24 out of 1,177: good, bad or ugly?


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Now that the most prestigious event of the advertising world is over, some Cannes attendees sit back and review our performance.


At all points in life, some win and some lose. While some industry honchos who were at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this year feel that we could have done better than the 24 medals we bagged, others are delighted with the kitty.


Bobby Pawar of Mudra Communications, which had the highest number of shortlists and wins, feels that it wasn’t enough. “We did get the biggest ever tally of metals in Cannes for an Indian agency, though I can’t help feeling that we can and should have done better,” Pawar said. The Silent Anthem campaign done by the agency for Reliance Media Works not only won acclaim, but also a Silver in PR and a Bronze in Promo and Activation categories.


India had 1,177 entries this year, which saw nominations in almost every category. The only one which didn’t have a single Indian entry was the Cyber category. With four Golds, 10 Silvers and 10 Bronze Lions, the party is not yet over.


At the individual level, the agencies are happy with their performance, but ask about the overall Indian performance at the festival and it leads to a pause. Many feel that India’s talent needs to be showcased to its full potential and appreciated more often.


“It’s been one of India’s best years at Cannes. But this did not reflect the nation’s potential or the general mood at Cannes. We know there was a lot of fantastic work that won at Goafest which was also expected to do well at Cannes, but did not. So a lot of people were disappointed,” Josy Paul of BBDO India says.


Agreeing with him, Viral Pandya, CCO of little-known Delhi-based advertising agency, Out of the Box (which won a Gold in the Design category) adds, “I think our ‘big boys’ could have done better. I sincerely feel that Mudra could have picked up a Gold for their ‘Silent National Anthem’. It’s a brilliant piece of work!”


Rajiv Rao of Ogilvy India, on the other hand, feels that the question of winning is more or less debatable. There is a jury that decides and one has to accept and respect it.


The festival is an event where work from all across the world is presented on one platform. It gives one an opportunity to not only view others’ work but also understand different cultures and how to cater to the end consumer. However, the comparison between Indian and international hotshots is unavoidable. “We did pretty well, certainly much better than Singapore which was an erstwhile Cannes powerhouse. However, it’s time we took it up a few notches,” says Pawar. Rao too feels that we can do much more than what we have achieved.


Pandya feels that we are far away from sweeping the festival awards. He blames it on the agencies as he believes that we are completely divided as a national industry. “Having one drink at the Gutter Bar isn’t going to make us stronger as a creative-focused industry. If we don’t inspire each other, we will have no one to back us or strengthen us,” he rues.


“I still think Mumbai and Delhi don’t get along together, and the industry continues to be about being HQed in Mumbai. The media itself is so tilted towards Mumbai. At GoaFest, the number of Delhi judges were as many as Brazilians on the jury. To win at Cannes, we need to have new and fresher ideas to fight at the top. We need to have some brave committed thinking to push and innovate and continuously create original, almost unknown, and bold ideas,” he says.



“The jury nominated our work in almost every category – Promo, PR, Press, Outdoor, and Creative Effectiveness. We had more than 50% conversion,” says Paul. The advertising agency won four shiny Cannes Lions and 14 nominations.


Apart from Mudra and BBDO, other advertising agencies which had a great run at Cannes were McCann Worldgroup, Taproot India and Maxus to name a few. There were many surprises and first-times for India. One of the biggest surprises was a little-known Delhi-based advertising agency, Out of the Box, which won a Gold in the Design category. “One entry, one Gold Lion! Makes perfect sense! We are still ecstatic about it,” says Pandya.


The agency was surprised at being shortlisted but after the nomination, was sure of a win. “We were totally taken aback. This was like taking a Maths exam and getting cent per cent marks,” adds Pandya.


Another feather in the Indian cap was the Creative Effectiveness Lion for BBDO’s WALS (Women Against Lazy Stubble) campaign. The category was introduced for the first time this year. The new award was to honour creativity which has shown a measurable and proven impact on a client’s business – creativity that affects consumer behaviour, brand equity, sales and profit. “We won the world’s first Creative Effectiveness Lion. Everybody was surprised. Nobody in India expected to win this first-time award. The award is both humbling and liberating. It is the biggest thing to happen to us in our three-year history. We started in 2008 from the backseat of a car! The award is significant because it settles the whole debate about creativity and effectiveness. It links the two so brilliantly and has the power to convert the biggest cynics of creative award shows into its greatest advocates. I must add here that the award belongs to all our client partners – Mediacom, Weber Shandwick, Encompass and GRIPS. No wonder it’s bigger than a Gold Lion. I am told it carries 10 points while a Gold Lion gets you seven. No wonder this Lion has a fierce all-black look. It’s not here to just look good. Touch it, it truly moves you,” says Paul.


The Film Craft category, which is in its second year, saw 33 entries from the country. Ogilvy India won us the first Gold Lion in the category. “We are very happy with our Gold Lion for Indian Railways, something that India and the world loved instantly,” says Rao. The award took the agency up in the order, ranking it third in the Indian scorecard after BBDO India and Mudra Communications.


Many feel that we need to take on technology and our IT calibre to drive ideas would be fantastic to raise the bar. An average performance won’t help in the Indian advertising industry. It’s time to rise to our fullest potential to be counted among the best in the world. Next year, it will be another race to win and we need to come up with brilliant and bold ideas to leave a mark in everyone’s mind. Hope the preparations have already started.


Feedback: meghna@exchange4media.com

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