If you thought that creative gurus mean it when they say winning at Cannes Lions is difficult and it is more important to win than judge the amount that is won, then you couldn’t be farther from the truth. Advertising business is extremely competitive top down and across all markets. Professionals in this business truly live cut-throat. So thoughts as noble as ‘it is ok to do the good work and celebrate what we win than cry over what we did not’ don’t really exist in the minds of creative doyens. They are at Cannes to make a statement that they can do it, and they are not very happy when they don’t.
On the last day of the Festival, a journalist friend from Brazil said to me, and I quote: India is so much bigger than Brazil but we have won 80 Lions this year. My response: I know that!
I indeed do; India, and the advertising business in India, is so much bigger than Brazil. India Adlanders have the wonderful nature of surprising journalists such as me every single time. Let me also tell you some journalists are more pure – they don’t care about such things: how does it matter to them. But unfortunately, this particular puritan nature is not for me and hence I very much care.
Does India’s performance, which is the worst since 2007, disappoint me? Yes. I wish we had a lot more to write than just saying India draws a blank, or no show from India or India makes no impact and other such creative ways of putting no score in a category. I would have loved to hear and quote international jury members say that so and so work from India was a real winner. I would have loved the pressure of reporting on 80 or 100 shortlists in crazy time, since the who-reported-first clause of a journalist’s life applies at Cannes as well.
Cannes Lions Festival Chairman Terry Savage put it very kindly, when he said India is not having a great year. Most others have said India has slipped bad at Cannes Lions.
While there may be some merit in that argument, here are some other facts that highlight where India stands at Cannes Lions:
1. 2012 was the first year when an entire session was dedicated to India. And one of the two speakers was R Balki, a non-believer in the current system of awards. He was speaking to a packed house.
2. Josy Paul was one of the most appreciated speakers at Cannes Lions 2012 – he was congratulated in the Palais and outside for the rest of the Festival week.
3. ‘I am Mumbai’ was amongst the most spoken about film for the last two days of the Festival after it was shown during the BBDO session.
4. Agnello Dias was the second Indian creative head to be in coveted Cannes Lions Titanium & Integrated Jury.
5. India won three Gold Lions – Outdoor, Design and Film Craft
The Gutter Bar (72 Croisette) conversations were about a poor show from India but a lot of it was around the learnings of this year, jury members goading creative heads that they should have entered some of the work that did well at Abby awards and suggestions and advice on what should be followed for next year.
It was a bad year for India on the awards front, but it made most of our creative heads come together and talk about what went wrong. It was a year of new learning and facing tougher competition. It was the year when India as a market was discussed for its yet untapped potential and possibilities. It was the year from where things are only bound to get better…