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Cannes 2015: What's different about us was recognized and rewarded at the highest level: Josy Paul

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Cannes 2015: What's different about us was recognized and rewarded at the highest level: Josy Paul

In the inaugural year of the Glass Lions at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2015, BBDO Mumbai had won for India two of the eight Glass Lions awarded – winning a Grand Prix for ‘Touch the Pickle’ (for Whisper Sanitary Napkins, P&G India) and a Glass Lion for ‘Share the Load’ (for ArielMatic, P&G India). ‘Touch the Pickle’ also picked up a Bronze in the Media category, in a year that has been otherwise dismal for India. The Glass Lion - or Lion for Change –was introduced this year to address issues of gender inequality or prejudice, through the conscious representation of gender in advertising.

The conversation this year at Cannes has been that the work revolved around too many charities, while by rights, it should be more about work done for big brands. The BBDO India wins beautifully bring together social causes and a big brand.
“I don’t know how to describe it, words get in the way... It is a collective and individual explosion of joy,” said Josy Paul, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of BBDO India. “In Mumbai, our ashram came alive with happy music... There were people going around only saying ‘Oh My God’ the whole day.”

“I was thrilled that our work, which very few people had actually spoken about, had got international attention. And we felt sort of fulfilled and encouraged that what all of us are doing was in the right direction. Even though we didn’t have much Indian acclaim, it was recognized on the world stage,” he added.

As for Ajai Jhala, CEO of BBDO India, it was “the culmination of seven years of belief, hard work and staying the course, despite sometimes not seeing the rewards. But a Grand Prix was incomprehensible even in our best we thought we would win a Gold.”

Talking about the larger picture around the campaigns, Paul said Indian creativity is seeking noble purpose and it is embracing social-cultural tension points and conflicts, and finding creative ways to resolve them. “Young Indians are questioning the stereotypes of the past and liberating advertising from the traditional clutches of the perfect model-hero archetype. P&G’s powerful new campaign for its laundry brand ‘Ariel’ urging men to ‘Share The Load’ in a country where 90% of women do all the household chores themselves, set out by asking an important question on national media: ‘Is laundry only a woman's job?’ The brand then stepped forward and launched the first ever 'his and her' pack. Not enough, it tied up with matrimonial websites where marriages are arranged to promote this discussion. Ariel even got clothing brands to re-look at their wash care labels and add a new washing instruction ‘Can be washed by men and women',” he explained.

In October last year, P&G’s sanitary napkin brand ‘Whisper’ challenged myths and taboos surrounding women’s periods - something that is unspoken and kept under wraps in India. “It was brought out in the open with #TouchThePickle. It started a movement that got media, social platforms, student organizations, stand-up comedians and even TEDX talking about the subject openly – something like this had never happened in India before,” Paul added.

Whenever people try to be different, others put them down. However, that was not the case at Cannes: “Finally, what was different about us was recognized and rewarded at the highest level in the world. The jury saw the point of difference and in that there is a future... The first pieces of work are only provocations to a larger conversation,” Paul said.

Jhala termed this success one of the breakthroughs - finding new ways in advertising. “The first new way was the Liril ad. The second new way was with work around Cadbury and Fevicol, but after that there was a huge gap. The third new way was with ‘Women Against Stubble’. At one level, this is something that has been going on for the last seven years, but what is significant is that it is not only a Grand Prix but a Grand Prix for a big brand in a big country like India, where there are so many issues that align to the theme of the Glass Lions. At some level, it will change nothing and at some level it will change everything. Bit of a paradox,” Jhala said.

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