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ANOTHER LION HUNT BEGINS SOON AT CANNES

BY NEETA NAIR

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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!

Turn the pages to get a glimpse of the top contenders for metals from various agencies in India at the Cannes Lions. (The agencies have not been placed in any particular order. Some agencies that are missing here did not want to share information about their entries.)

THE CANNES PROBABLES
HERE ARE SOME OF INDIA’S BEST BETS AT THE CANNES LIONS INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF CREATIVITY 2018

AGENCY
“We have only entered one piece this year, and that’s the Durex Jeans launch communication. You will recall it created quite a stir last year with people speculating about why Durex would be launching a jeans line - not just in India but across the world. Even Playboy picked it up! It has received good reviews and done well in awards shows in the region and I am hoping that the clutter-breaking execution of the creative business idea will stand out in, what I expect will be, a sea of cause-driven campaigns.”

NIMA NAMCHU
CCO, Havas India

AGENCY
FCB INDIA
THE TIMES OF INDIASINDOORKHELA
“This is our offering to Cannes Gods. I hope they are pleased with our effort.”

SWATI BHATTACHARYA
CCO, FCB Ulka



AGENCY
MULLEN LINTAS
MOTILAL OSWALEXPERTS

“Our worldwide Creative Council was really excited about this work when we presented it there. We had set out to create the most differentiated financial brand possible yet not unnecessarily audacious or controversial or quirky. We were happy to have discovered this space and we are enjoying the newer interpretations that the brand is allowing us to make within it. It will be a huge bonus to be considered and short listed or to win at Cannes but to put Motilal Oswal deservingly up there with the best, most well-known finance brands.”

AMER JALEEL
Chairman & CCO, Mullen Lintas

AGENCY
BBH
ABBOTTLIFE TO THE FULLEST

“A lot of the best advertising in the world focuses on products, or what a company wants to sell. The Abbott campaign shows how real, everyday people, with the help of modern medicine and Abbott’s life changing technology and products, are able pursue all that they are passionate about. The film is honest, authentic and memorable as it features real people and not actors. We hope that these stories inspire others as it showcases the unstoppable spirit of people, who are living amazing lives, despite health challenges they face.”

VIVEK MOHAN
Divisional Vice President, Corporate Global Marketing, Abbott

AGENCY
DENTSU WEBCHUTNEY
COLOR OF GREY CELLSPROJECT RE-SEARCH: BEYOND THE BLUE WHALE CHALLENGE

“The three campaigns we’ve entered at Cannes are extremely close to our heartand at the center of all of them is an attempt to move India’s social graph forward using design, technology and communication.”

PG ADITYA
Executive Creative Director, Dentsu Webchutney

AGENCY
OGILVY
SAVLON - HEALTHY HANDS CHALK STICKS

“Savlon Healthy Hands Chalk Sticks initiative turned out to be an idea that set new benchmarks in Innovative product design, PR, Outdoor activation, Experience, Health and so many disciplines last year with its rich haul of 7 Lions at Cannes. Given how that activity has expanded through a robust reach and left its positive imprint by affecting thousands of more kids and their health for the better in the past year, we believe that the creative effectiveness jury at Cannes will take due notice of also how effective this immensely creative solution has been.”

KAINAZ KARMAKAR & HARSHAD RAJADHYAKSHA
CCOs, Ogilvy India (West)


AGENCY
MEDULLA COMMUNICATIONS
INDIAN ASSOCIATION OF PALLIATIVE CARELAST LAUGH

“We have taken a break after last year, because we were amongst the top three agencies of the year in healthcare for three years in a row. This is a break year for us and we shall enter again in the next. But, yes we are entering the ‘Last Laugh’ in the effectiveness category. Last Laugh of course has won big in APAC Effies and many other award shows. So, it’s one of the bigger international winners in effectiveness. So, obviously we are hoping that it will win even at Cannes, but we are not entering any newer campaigns this year.”

AMIT AKALI
CCO, Medulla Communications

AGENCY
BBDO INDIA
“Will our work make a difference? What value is it adding to the world? Does it really matter? That’s how we select our work for Cannes. It’s about contribution and influence. Our campaign for All Out #StandByToughMoms has just been shortlisted in the the Glass Lion category. It feels good when your work resonates with the international jury. The way we see it, Cannes Lions is not just a festival of creativity. It’s a cultural exchange program. We see Cannes Lions as a medium and platform to bring the world closer to India. Our work is our cultural ambassador.”

JOSY PAUL
Chairman & Chief Creative Officer, BBDO India

AGENCY
J WALTER THOMPSON
NESTLE + TIMES POWER OF PRINT – THE CLASS TEACHER

Girls and womankind are deprived of the fundamental right to education in India which traditionally favours only boys. To spread awareness the campaign established the positive relationship between female education and overall development outcomes of a community. A class photograph has been used to illustrate the fact that when a girl child is educated, she also helps educate the rest of her family and community. So in the photograph, the place of the teacher is taken by a girl wearing a school uniform, and her ‘students’ are the members of her family.

UNICEF – HALF TOYS
Despite free immunization programs sponsored by the Government, millions of children die in the hinterlands of India due to diseases that could easily be prevented by complete immunisation. This was conveyed to parents by distributing to the kids ‘half-toys’ making the kids pester their parents for the other half. As a result the parents turned up for the events where the importance of complete immunization was explained. The volunteers distributed these ‘half toys’ in 4000 villages, contacting 1.6 million caregivers. In total 17000 events were conducted.

TIMES SPARK - A SALAAM TO KALAAM
Less than 3% of young Indians read the daily newspapers. And to inspire and ignite the reading habit, the agency and brand made a short film on the reading habit of a newspaper boy who became the President of India- APJ Abdul Kalam. A musical narrative that delivered a dream of flying a fighter plane, to inspire a billion. An inspirational story told through a historic timeline of Times of India newspapers from 1941 to 2017, building emotional milestones from newspaper headlines into the lyrics and integrating the brand into the narrative through seamless storytelling.

AGENCY SAYS

AGENCY
DDB MUDRA
As part of a hyper local language promotion strategy for its range Puma Suede, Puma rolled out its campaign ‘Suede Gully’ where it portrays the street culture of India to woo millennials. Conceptualized by DDB Mudra, the film captures together three street art forms - namely graffiti, rap and dance. By creating India’s largest street collaboration, the agency brought together eight rappers, 32 dancers and seven street artists in a music video that covered four cities - Mumbai, Delhi, Shillong and Madurai and four languages.

AGENCY SAYS
STORYTEL: TELL ME A STORY

Great stories deserve a great narration, especially classic children’s stories with their rich plots and varied characters. But how will a child imagine the story in the best way possible? McCann’s idea highlights the plight of a child who hears a story, but doesn’t quite imagine it the way it should be. Often, the line between narrator and the characters blurs itself. Storytel, does justice to the stories and characters with its vivid narration, wellmodulated voices and background score to bring back the magic of fairytales.

WHEN ON THE ROAD, LISTEN TO THE ROAD
KRISPY - CEREBRO: THE VIDEO RECOMMENDATIONS & PERSONALISATION WIZARD

Mindshare was tasked with getting Krispy the Hindustan Unilever OTT platform for entertainment 1,00,000 monthly active users and increase stickiness. Krispy is an On The Go entertainment app from HUL. Mindshare launched Cerebro – a data, insights and analytics driven content strategy. Every video watched was transformed into a vector of qualitative and quantitative parameters. An in-depth analysis of content that was watched on Krispy and what people watched in India revealed that people wanted gossip about celebs. Mindshare then shortlisted 500 partners that provided content on gossip. As a result Krispy got 3.6 times the monthly active users and four times increase in average watch time.

KISSAN TIFFIN TIME TABLE
Kissan collaborated with India Food Network to curate quick and easy recipes to help mothers prepare school lunchboxes for their children. Eleven food bloggers/tiffin chefs shared tips and recipes to make lunch boxes healthy, appealing and exciting to children. For 36 weeks and running, food bloggers have been guiding mothers across India with their daily dabba dilemmas. The campaign also invited chefs and mothers to share recipes on the website.

RIN - SAVE WATER AND IT WILL SAVE YOU
The Hindustan Unilever detergent brand released a print ad on the occasion of World Water Day - March 22. In the image a group of villagers are seen gathering around a well that represents a bucket. The ad signals the the risk of drought and the importance of water conservation. The ad is for the brand’s ‘Smart Foam’ technology offering. The campaign was conceptualised and created by J Walter Thompson (JWT) - Mumbai, the campaign has been produced by Happy Finish Studios. Mindshare has nominated the campaign in the Sustainable Development Goals category.


RED LABEL - WALK TOGETHER FOR A GREENER TOMORROW
Mindshare Walk Together for a Greener Tomorrow campaign for Brooke Bond Red Label tea has been nominated in the Sustainable Development Goals category and two Outdoor Lions sub-categories - Small Scale Special Solutions and Interactive Experiences. Mindshare solved the problem of improper disposal of plastic tea cups on the route for the annual Pandarpur Yatra by introducing branded biodegradable cups layered with seeds. Once planted, these cups could grow into trees.



‘The agent at the visa office stood up and clapped when he saw 86-year-old Pooran’
Praful and Amit Akali of Medulla Communications all set to take 86-yearold terminally ill patient from ‘Last Laugh’ video to speak at Cannes

If the performance of the Brooke Bond Red Label 6 pack band was a crowd-puller at the Cannes Lions last year, this time, along with the much-awaited Lion of St Mark award ceremony for Piyush and Prasoon Pandey, there is another event that is all set to give the attendees at Cannes something to remember. Amit Akali, CCO and Praful Akali, Founder & MD, Medulla Communications will take the stage along with Heather Bresch, CEO, Mylan to speak on ‘Experiments with Life-Changing Creativity’. Joining them will be the star of the ‘Last Laugh’ video from Medulla Communications that won many accolades last year for its ingenuity, making viewers laugh and cry at the same time. The 86-year-old, terminally ill patient, Pooran Isarsingh, will share experiences of her first on-stage performance. Here’s a conversation with Amit and Praful Akali, to find out all the details.

Q] Firstly, hats off to ‘Last Laugh’, and to those patients who performed stand-up comedy for their friends and family while battling death. How many more surprises can we expect at Cannes?
Praful: This is the first time that an Indian agency will be speaking on the Inspiration stage of Lions Health. More importantly, ‘life-changing creativity’ is the motto and tagline of Lion’s Health and this is the first time they have let any agency host a session on their motto; thus it is a big responsibility. We have reached out to past winners of Lions Health, jury members and taken into account their experiences on life-changing creativity. So we are looking at a collective perspective.

Amit: We are speaking on June 19 and it would be a 45-minute session. The CEO of one of America’s largest pharma companies, Mylan, is sharing the stage with us. Mylan is also our client, as we have done advertising campaigns for their American market from India. In fact, we have been doing a lot of international advertising, of late. We are also flying Pooran Isarsingh to Cannes to perform on stage. She will be meeting the CEO and the thought behind the session is that life-changing creativity happens when clients meet consumers.

Q] It is really brave of 86-year-old Isarsingh, a terminally ill patient, to fly to Cannes for this session. Whose idea was it to take her?
Praful: Both mine and Amit’s. In fact when Pooran Isarsingh went to the visa office after we decided to fly her to Cannes, the visa agent stood up and clapped for her. He said he had never seen an 86-year-old applying for a visa in his office earlier. She is also probably the oldest speaker Cannes has ever hosted, so it is quite crazy.

Amit: Isarsingh is also my aunt. She had suffered a dengue attack, and was in the ICU, where her lungs collapsed and she was breathing through a ventilator. In fact, I remember waiting outside the ICU and the doctors telling me that she wouldn’t survive. Then, I called up all my relatives across India and got them to fly down as she had been declared dead. But she actually survived those 15 days, started breathing again, was removed from the ventilator and then performed in the ‘Last Laugh’. She fought back and then onwards, her heart is at 10-15% capacity. We actually lost a couple of the performers from the video we had shot in the last few months.

Q] How did you prepare the patients for the unique video which made people laugh at death… was it completely scripted?
Amit: A lot of it was from their lives. We also got renowned stand-up comedians to train them, and help draft the script better. Take for instance how Isarsingh told the stand-up comedian, “I have six sisters, and three of them died.” So, the comedian put in a joke about she getting promoted and the patient expressed it in her own words and style. So, it was a collaboration. We are trying to write a little different stuff for her to speak in Cannes.

Q] So, Isarsingh will be performing an all-new act at Cannes?
Amit: We are not sure of that. She just had a knee replacement surgery. She will obviously be speaking, but whether it would be as part of the interview or whether she takes the microphone to do a stand up act, will depend on her confidence level and health at that time. She has had a very interesting life. She spent the first part of her life in Pakistan, was one of the first ever girls to go to a law college in then India and had escaped from Pakistan with her kid brothers. Would be wonderful if she can do the act at Cannes.

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