It’s that time of the year when the advertising fraternity from around the world converges on the French Riviera, for its annual rendezvous with enlightment and applause. The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity which sees the best campaigns from across the world vie for awards across 16 categories, saw India ending its six-year Grand Prix drought this year with BBDO winning the metal in the newly-launched Glass Lion for its ‘Touch the pickle’ campaign for Whisper sanitary napkins.
The campaign launched by BBDO last year claimed to break the social taboos surrounding menstruation. The movement is initiated under the brand campaign called ‘Kadam Badhaye Ja’ that saw almost 3 million women pledging to “touch the pickle jar” and helped Whisper’s share grew from 21% to 91% in its category. The campaign also got a bronze Lion in the Media category. BBDO’s ‘Share the load’ campaign for Ariel (another P&G brand) got a Glass Lion.
Josy Paul, chairman and chief creative officer of BBDO India, who had to be calmed down by CEO Ajai Jhala, with a drink on hearing the news, was on top of the world that both the movements – Whisper ‘Touch the pickle’ and Ariel ‘Share the load’, got the advertising world’s most respected awards. Though both the campaigns are mainstream ideas, they had a transformational impact on the respective brands, he said. “They started a conversation, helped change behaviour and drove a significant increase in sales. We were not in Cannes. We were in India. But we were transported to a third place: ‘heaven’,” he said. “This is not just a creative award. It’s a Grand Prix for bravery and it rightfully belongs to the Whisper team at P&G. We are thrilled that our movement ideas for Whisper ‘Touch the pickle’ and Ariel’s ‘Share the load’ have been recognised and rewarded by the best in the world. It inspires us to create more acts, not ads,” said Paul.
BBDO has won every inaugural award since its inception —the PR Lion, the Creative Effectiveness Lion and now the Glass Lion Grand Prix. The Glass Lion category introduced this year recognises work that implicitly or explicitly addresses issues of gender inequality or prejudice, through the conscious representation of gender in advertising.
By Thursday, India had bagged five more Lions, adding to the four metals won earlier taking the tally to 1 Grand Prix, 5 silver Lions and 4 bronze Lions. Creativeland Asia got a silver Lion for its campaign Durex Realfeels for Reckitt Benckiser while McCann Worldgroup India got a silver in Outdoor for its Dish TV campaign which included four creatives (Basement, Sofa, and Puddle). McCann also got two silver Lions in the Press category for Dabur’s Gastrina campaign and Dish TV. Grey Worldwide’s work for DHL also bagged a silver in the category. Grey also got a bronze in the Outdoor category for the same campaign, while Ogilvy & Mather got a bronze in Outdoor for Children’s Audiobook. In Press, Taproot Dentsu won for Mumbai Mirror. In 2014, India had won 5 Gold Lions, 9 Silver Lions and 13 Bronze Lions.
India’s win in categories such as PR, Outdoor, Media and Press (with 18 shortlists in Press alone) shows its dominance in the field. Altogether, there were 945 entries from India this year against 979 entries in 2014 and 1,110 entries in 2013. However, what is worrying is the poor performance in the new media categories. Says KV Sridhar, chief creative officer, SapientNitro India, “I remember the time when India mastered the Print category. It has proved its dominance in the category since 2005, but the world has moved on since then from traditional to new media. We still lag behind.” With no shortlists in categories such as Promo & Activation, Innovation and Mobile Lions’ and only a single entry in Direct from TBWA which also failed to convert into a metal, the weakness was self-evident. Sunil Lulla, chairman and managing director, Grey Group India seconds the thought and adds, “India’s strength is in print, film and potentially integrated. We are unfortunately not as yet on top of the world. But with super potential and probability to get there, India will….”
Till 1996, Cannes Lions was about television. Then came Print followed by Outdoor. Today, it is about new media and integrated work and competition is stiff. Many Indian delegates and jurors attending the festival believe that India hasn’t gotten into transformation ideas and have a lot of catching up to do.
The year 2015 should be a year to introspect, they say, if India wants to dominate the Lions.
Breaking all barriers
The Award: Glass Lion Grand Prix, Bronze Media Lion
Name of campaign: Touch the Pickle Brand: Whisper
Agency: BBDO India
The Brief: Get users to try Whisper Ultra as a product that helps them be unstoppable.
Target Group: Girls in the 18-24 age group who look up to Whisper as an expert for their period related queries. They are aspirational, independent, career driven, believe in themselves and want to live their dreams.
Background: Studies showed that 65% of urban Indian women perceived periods as coming in their way of achieving their potential.
The Execution: The campaign began in mid-July with the launch of the online-video and TVC. P&G unveiled an interactive Facebook page for the campaign alongside the videos. The 30-second commercial slams the myths surrounding menstruation by throwing the light on one of such taboos—‘a menstruating woman should refrain from touching a pickle jar as the pickle could get spoilt’. It also got the support of new-gen actors like Parineeti Chopra and Shraddha Kapoor.