The Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival 2007 has come to an end. The Festival again brings into focus where India stands as far as international advertising is concerned. Looking at pure statistics, Indian agencies have won 12 metals, the same number as last year. But this year there is no ‘Gold’ with the exception of the Promo category that does not award any one particular metal.
There were some surprises regarding the categories where India won and where it did not – some categories which gave India metals last year, like Media and Outdoor, had nothing to offer this year unlike Radio and Films, where India had won nothing last year, but did win this year.
Speaking on India’s performance, O&M’s Piyush Pandey said, “Why are we in a hurry to forget that we are late entrants in this field, and the fact that our work is already being recognised on the international platform is positive and encouraging. We should just keep doing great work for our clients, for our fraternity, take the best practices from other more evolved markets on platforms like these and see what we should learn from that.”
Prasoon Joshi, Executive Chairman, McCann Erickson India, said, “May be it is not as per expectations for a few, but I think India has put up a good show. Can we improve? Of course we can, but every one can improve --- that is the way it is for anything. Countries like Brazil and Argentina have been recently realised at Cannes Lions and India is coming under the scanner only recently. I don’t think we should tag this as bad performance at all.”
Colvyn Harris, CEO, JWT, on the other hand, has a word of caution. He said, “The performance per se is not bad, but a performance like this in one of our best years is something to worry about and definitely something that we should look into.”
Publicis India’s Chairman, Nakul Chopra, has a similar line of thought. He asked, “Can you even see India on a platform here? Are we standing out in anyway? It does not look like it. I am not just talking about the awards, the screenings, the workshops, the sessions --- where is India in all this and shouldn’t we be when the world is talking about India’s growth and how important the market is? I think we have a long way to go.”
It does look like there is a long way to go though some international creative figures really think that a lot of distance of this long way has already been covered. JWT’s Worldwide Creative Head, Craig Davis, said, “India has done really well. Twelve metals at Cannes Lions is not a small deal and should not be treated so.”
Trevor Beattie said, “I think it is a typically English thing to beat yourself up if you have not done too well. I think the jury still has to reach a place where they understand what India is doing. They get Brazil now, so every time they see it, God this got to be good! I think the jury at places like Cannes Lions has to grow more --- India is doing well!”
Indian ambassadors at Cannes are upbeat, but some of the younger delegates are unhappy and they are showing it. For them, this is the first year, the fact that India didn’t have as many nominations as a few other countries itself was depressing, let alone the fact that we didn’t bring home a Gold. Akhilesh Bagri of mc2 said, “I really thought I would see O&M and JWT every where and there is nothing. What is even worse is no one looks bothered about it.” Everest Brand Solutions’ Vijay Lalwani said, “It is difficult to comprehend that we have won no Golds. The Promo Lion is there, but we should really have won a Gold Lion in something. There really is so much to do.”
The fact that an Indian entry could not even make it to the shortlist in the Titanium and Integrated campaign was expected by many, but isn’t that in itself something to revisit? When we came looking for the category’s shortlist, many Indians here asked, ‘Were you really expecting an entry’. Shouldn’t we? Joshi commented, “Yes, we should and India is getting there, but you must understand that the advertising of many of these markets are decades old now in comparison to India, which is a comparatively new market.”
On Indian speakers and sessions, Pandey said, “I have spoken twice at Cannes stage already and we will see many young creatives present their views soon too. As for the sessions, they are an expensive affair and we will get to that in the short run too.”
The Times of India officials also agreed on that, that India would have a session at Cannes soon. In the meanwhile, the lack of metals was really made up for at The Times of India party at Cannes. From Festival officials to international agency heads to most Indians at Cannes, every one made it a point to be there and discuss India’s performance. Some discussions were politically correct, while most were just to the tune of ‘we have to do better.”