Why is it that Indian ads that win big at home do not enter the Cannes Lion race? As the 63rd Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity recently drew to close, let’s go over the ads that made the cut and why
Over the last few years, Cannes has clearly become ‘the festival’ when it comes to upholding creativity, advertising and marketing. It has also become a must-go place for Indians who are still catching up to the new-age thinking and different media. Surely the work that picks up an award here is celebrated across the world and to be frank, there’s no greater high than holding the prestigious Cannes Gold Lion. Something that happens only when one thinks beyond the normal and shuns the jaded.
The most-awarded campaigns at Cannes this year demonstrated exactly that thinking. Nearly all of them pushed the limits, created new communication languages and ushered a new era of advertising. This wouldn’t have been possible with the regular agency approach. The game is changing massively. Agencies and clients are collaborating in non-traditional ways — being more proactive — and the result is out for the whole world to see when an idea borne out of such a symbiosis goes on to win a Grand Prix. Increasingly, the unsaid mandate for agencies is, push the limit or perish.
Some ideas at Cannes did the simple job of being fresh, relevant, social, human, moving, brave and new-age, picking up their worthy Lions. Some like the Baby-Stroller test ride from FCB Chicago’s demo to parents or Narita Airport Terminal 3 Running Track from Party Tokyo or Art-quarium from Ogilvy Thailand ensured collective sighs and groans from all the
creatives beating their heads for not thinking of them first.
Manboobs by Argentinian agency David Buenos Aires for MACMA addressed a cultural problem in a most memorable way. Field trip to Mars, Next Rembrandt, Braille Watch, Blind Cap for Swimmers or the Brain Band from Samsung showed how technology can literally better human lives. Venables Bell & Partners San Francisco’s campaign for REI, #OptOutside, which took the decision to close its outlets on a black Friday, was one of the bravest and most courageous ideas. The Swedish Number’s scale, width and human connectivity in the digital era reduced the degrees of separation to promote its country. Heineken New Zealand’s Brewtroleum work for DB Export created by Colenso BBDO in Auckland is sort of a product idea implemented at such a massive scale that it tells us impossible is nothing. McWhopper by Y&R New Zealand is a new-age case of competitiveness and taking competition head on.
Cannes, like any other award show, also has a few niggles. Sure, the best of the best often gets to the stage but some equally good/great pieces of work don’t make the cut. It has happened with a lot of Indian entries where the work missed out because of various reasons.
I always feel that the new set of judges should be well-curated so that sensibilities, regional affiliations and backgrounds come together to form an unbiased ground of judging work. And international ideas don’t end up trumping local ones. Of course it is not easy to be a judge and one cannot blame the juries all the time. They do have to sit through thousands of pieces crammed into a few hours, and honestly it’s humanly impossible to give your 100% attention to all the work.
Yes, we should stick to what’s relevant to our market and consumers. There’s an encouraging trend that more and more juries are taking the extra effort to understand the local context and background.
A local jury will react to a local campaign in a different way than a jury at Adfest or Spikes Asia. And things will be even more different at Cannes. Often ideas that are phenomenally successful and big winners locally don’t win at regional or international forums. So it is very important to understand what will be effective where. Of course if there is excess money lying around, please enter, but remember to not be too optimistic about it.
The author is CCO & co-founder, Taproot India