Our dismal performance in the Cyber Lions and Mobile Lions categories at Cannes 2012 prompts Priyanka Nair to analyse what is wrong in the Indian Digital advertising space
India has once again drawn a blank in the Cyber Lions category at Cannes 2012. Of the 27 entries from India in this category, not a single one made it to the shortlist. No entry from India made it to the shortlist for this year’s newly introduced Mobile Lions category either. Overall this year, there were 2,458 entries from 59 countries in the Cyber Lions category - a dip of 13% compared to last year, as some entries earlier submitted in the Cyber Lions category went to the Mobile Lions category.
Industry people believe that Indian agencies may not have been very confident of the category to begin with, as only five entries were sent from India for the Mobile Category. There were no Indian jury members for the Mobile category in its launch year. A total of 965 entries from 47 countries have been submitted in the Mobile category. Considering that Digital is the centre of conversations at all present industry fora and around future projections, India’s dismal performance at Cannes in this category makes one realize that India is still lagging miles behind in this aspect.
Why this Kolaveri Di?
There are many factors that go against good digital creative work in India. One of the primary reasons behind this is that there is an inability to acquire the requisite budget for a digital campaign. The digital industry, growing at a rate of over 40% until the last quarter of 2011, gets a very small share of the pie in the Rs 266 billion advertising industry in India, curtailing space for growth and experiments. Mobile, which is largely considered to be a part of the digital industry, gets an even smaller share of the pie. There is little doubt among marketers when it comes to usage and potential of the medium, but the numbers and optimism placed on the wireless devices in the fastest-growing mobile market of the world has not translated into tangible, successful precedents for growth.
Secondly, there is lack of risk-taking on the part of advertisers as well as agencies. The digital medium in India is still used more for its effectiveness than creativity. As Sonal Dabral, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer, DDB Mudra Group, says, “Technology has taken a much faster leap in India then the communication industry. What we need to learn is the craft of designing and executing digital campaigns that is impactful. Digital media is still in its infant stage. Only when we proactively open up to the medium, step up and embrace it, will we see impressive work flowing in.”
There is need for a reality check on how evolved our consumers, marketers and agencies are, when compared to countries that have Cannes-shortlisted entries or winners. The short-listed entries for Cyber Lions come from countries which have more than 75% internet penetration, while India has just crossed the 10% mark. The primary need of the hour is digital platforms as an enabler of convergence, providing a stage for technology and creativity to meet. According to Josy Paul, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer, BBDO India, “What we are seeing in India is very basic digital work. Not much true integrated work using digital as a platform is being created. Much work created by our agencies looks impressive but is many a time relevant only to our market. Also, I believe that one should not separate media with ideas - digital has to be part of a life idea and doesn’t work in isolation.”
Go Beyond Just a Like
Digital engagement in India has been reduced to a Facebook page and a Twitter handle. The myth that more number of likes will generate more brand awareness and engagement has to be broken. Ashok Lalla, digital marketer and author of ‘The Future of Digital for Brands’, says, “Most of the Digital work done in India is fairly shallow, and is focused around Facebook, Twitter, apps or around creating a buzz, usually through contests and give-aways. To be really meaningful, Digital campaigns need to be centred around strong creative ideas that are intrinsically social, shareable and inviting interaction. These ideas need to be grounded in deep consumer insights and then delivered through impeccable execution. The big winners in Digital over the past few years globally have imbibed these aspects, and also delivered solid brand results beyond mere impressions or likes.”
The TV-led thinking for brands, where an idea is crafted for TV and then adapted to Digital, is actually the biggest problem in India. Brand-owners need to recognize the importance of Digital and craft the entire strategy accordingly. It’s a mindset shift needed by the marketing and advertising fraternity as a whole. Navin Kansal, Group Creative Head, Grey Digital says, “The world is increasingly moving from Digital to post-Digital, from online interactivity to interactivity in the real world. Agencies globally are quickly mastering how to create a seamless intersection between creative and technology and curate it. Nike Fuel Band, this year’s Cyber Grand Prix winner, is a case in point. We are still trying to play catch-up.”
The world is moving rapidly towards integration where Digital can play a role anywhere in the communication value chain, right from the product creation stage to brand experience and virality. Therefore, it’s not about Digital versus other mediums, but Digital working in conjunction to bring consumer engagement and the brand moment of truth alive. According to Anil Nair, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Partner, Law & Kenneth India, “We need to unlearn and relearn. We need to ditch brand awareness and embrace brand experiences. We need to think beyond ads and invest in creating brand assets. We need to stop taking ourselves so seriously and bring in an element of ‘play’ in our interactions with the new empowered consumer.”
(With inputs from Noor Fathima Warsia)
AND HERE COME THE WINNERS...
COLD COMFORT FROM 14 METALS AT CANNES - THREE GOLDS, THREE SILVERS, EIGHT BRONZES - INDIA’S LOWEST IN FIVE YEARS
India’s metal tally at the 59th International Festival of Creativity at Cannes stands at 14 metals including three Golds, three Silvers, eight Bronzes, its lowest in five years. Overall, 91 Indian entries were shortlisted for metals, out of 1,182 entries that India entered at the festival this year. India’s overall performance has gone down drastically as compared to last year, when the metal tally was 24. Before that, India won 17 metals in 2010, 25 in 2009 and 23 in 2008.
Going by the point system that Cannes Lions follows, DDB Mudra is on the top this year with 20 points - one Gold, one Bronze and 10 shortlists. Following closely is Leo Burnett India with 19 points - two Silvers, one Bronze and six shortlists and Ogilvy & Mather India with 12 points - three Bronzes, three shortlists. Here’s a look at the winning Indian entries at Cannes Lions 2012.