As India won its first-ever Innovation Lion for HP’s Roads that Honk, many are optimistic that it isn’t the last one. The industry believes that things are changing for good and India’s performance at Cannes Lions this year is a testimony to the change.
The desire for appreciation and being awarded is global. The creative industry, which sees numerous award shows throughout the year, has expanded its horizons and categories to bring out the best in its work over years.
India too, has won accolades in non-traditional categories not only at Cannes International Festival of Creativity but also at D&AD, One Show, Clio and ANDY’s (The Advertising Club of New York). Many say, Indian creativity is finally making a visible difference.This year saw India win its first-ever Innovation Lion for HP’s Roads That Honk campaign. Previous years (2015 and 2016) have seen the country winning Grand Prix in the Glass Lion category.
Leo Burnett’s South Asia chief strategy officer Dheeraj Sinha, whose agency made headlines this year with HP, says that compared to previous years, India’s performance at Cannes has been the best in 2017. “There’s a width of work that has won at Cannes this year, across categories and agencies. Noteworthy is the performance by start-up agencies such as Medulla — which has been making its mark consistently for a few years now,” he says.
Also interesting is the fact that India isn’t just winning in traditional categories such as Print or Film Craft, but even in Innovation, Health, Creative Effectiveness and Product Innovation.
India’s content and communication history lies in the traditionally focussed craft of copy and art. As the world transits to a great application of technology, with social causes becoming brands, the range of experiential marketing seen in other markets is missing in India. But that is changing. It will evolve. “India will not progress, it will leapfrog — that’s the advantage the diverse culture and talent can bring to the shows,” says Sunil Lulla, chairman and MD, Grey Group.
BBDO India chairman and CCO, Josy Paul, on the other hand believes that today everything is non-traditional. Even the work that wins in traditional media is non-traditional. “Almost all of the work among India’s 40 metals at Cannes this year is non-traditional, be it Immunity Charm, HP’s Roads that Honk, Mirinda’s Release The Pressure, Odds from Adidas, Savlon’s Healthy Hand Chalk Stick or Bajaj V and Ariel’s Share The Load, and we also won creative effectiveness awards,” he says.
Paul goes on to add that the trend is about creating things about making something one can touch. Fearless Girl, Immunity Charm and Meet Graham are great examples of this. One thread that binds all these together is a rise in technology-based ideas, especially where technology meets social purpose.
In categories such as Innovation, there were tech giants such as Google and Apple competing with creative agencies.
“We have made our mark amongst companies who are in the business of innovation and have large resources of time and talent dedicated to it. From this perspective, India’s performance on innovation is beginning to shine through,” adds Sinha.
India is a leader in innovation and in the broadest sense, believes Zenith’s US EVP and head of innovation, Tom Goodwin. “The Indian spirit is one of a ‘can-do’ nature, or making things happen; of working hard and being ingenious,” Goodwin says. “As cellular data speeds and smartphone adoption rates improve, I have no doubt that some of the most impressive and creative solutions will come from India.”
Nonetheless, one cannot deny that currently, India does face some challenges when it comes to infrastructure and relatively low levels of technology adoption. But in recent times, there has been greater CMO involvement and passion that brings with it an advantage to push for greater corporate interest. “When a business wants a Cannes Lions as badly as it wants a local award, then there will be greater push from corporations in reference to innovation and outstanding excellence,” adds Lulla. And if such innovations and experimentation helps brands and agencies to meet their marketing and sales objectives, they need not stop at anything. However, brands and agencies won’t tolerate trendy ideas that don’t work or don’t show evidence of working, highlights brand and communication consultant Adrian Day.
Lulla further adds, “Pure innovation is a breakthrough. It requires great resources. It requires encouraging risk and failures. Corporates need to support their brands with marketing innovation and not stop at product or supply chain innovation.” Goodwin goes on to say that nations that are new to the technology, need to really push limits in the most exciting ways. For example, how WeChat is used in China to sell Guerlain products using local stars like Yang Yang, is very interesting. “The overt gesture of cleverness, modernity, jumping on the next big thing like 3D printing or drones, is almost the opposite of what real innovation is about. Innovation should make things so easy you don’t notice them,” he sums up.