Ad guru Piyush Pandey, Executive Chairman and Creative Director of Ogilvy & Mather, India and South Asia, is a Cannes veteran, having observed the festival and the evolution of advertising and admen over the years. On the very last day of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, exchange4media caught up with him and Rajiv Rao, NCD of Ogilvy & Mather, India to talk about trends emerging out of the festival, the new Ogilvy CEO John Seifert, Ogilvy India’s performance and more. Here are excerpts from the freewheeling conversation:
What are the trends emerging post Cannes Lions 2016? Where is the advertising industry headed?
Piyush: Overall, the categories are growing. Health & Wellness is just two years old, Entertainment has been introduced just this year. A lot of work is still and will always be about ideas, you may arrive at it from data, for which there is a category. But I met some of the jury members for data and they say they are looking at where the data took you for the idea... I don’t think that is ever going to change. Technology will ease things for us to create better ideas but anyone who does not have an idea will not have a future, now or ever.
Technology was an over-riding aspect of the Cannes Lions festival this year... it was almost like the Cannes Lions of VR...
Piyush: Let us put it like this, we are living in the times of VR. Look at the VR idea on ‘Mars - Children in the Bus’... that is VR work at its best. Just think of yourself as a child and think you are on that bus, you will be blown away by the idea and there is no better example of VR than that.
Rajiv: To add to that, we are seeing a lot of technology but the basis of it all is still the idea. Like ‘Brewtroleum – Petroleum made out of Beer’. It is a great combination of a fantastic idea and existing technology.
Piyush: And finally somebody gave due credit to alcohol!
Rajiv: But that wouldn’t have been possible without technology. Again, recreating Rembrandt’s paintings in The Next Rembrandt is a huge one...
Piyush: At one level, you had these technology-led ideas and on another level you had ‘Test Ride the Pram’ which is so simple an idea... minus technology... that an adult can’t experience what a child experiences in a pram unless you create a pram as big as his size and put him in it. So that’s the beauty of it, these two ends. Look at the McWhopper campaign- there is no technology, but see how many awards it has won. It is about simple insights - one needs technology, one doesn’t need technology.
Rajiv: Most of the ideas seen have been using technology in a brilliant way. Again, something like the Bucket idea where you could wash your clothes and it could keep you mosquito-free... It is a clever use of technology.
Piyush: Another trend is that a lot of collaborative effort is seen this year... Two agencies coming together or three partners coming together to create great work. McWhopper is a joint effort between Y&R and David Miami.. They belong to different networks! The same goes for some of the winners I saw. We are moving towards a world of collaboration. As technology comes in, we shall have to collaborate with people who know technology. And they will have to collaborate with us for ideas. And you will see a lot more collaboration.
Rajiv: Again, simplicity rules when it comes to ideas and one of the best examples is ManBoobs. We have been talking about breast cancer for women for the longest time and here is one campaign which you look at and say I wish I could have thought of that idea. No technology, but such a simple and brilliant idea. At the end of the day it is the simplicity of the idea that will rule.
What about Ogilvy’s performance at the Cannes Lions this year? Is it up to your expectations?
Piyush: As of last evening (Saturday evening), we were doing very well. As for India, as a country, we have done a very good job, I am very happy for Amit Akali and his brother to have made an impact in a new category and make India proud. We are very happy with the work done by BBDO and very happy with the work that we have done. I’m a little disappointed about our campaign ‘Beauty Tips by Reshma’, it should have converted a lot more, as it was shortlisted some 13-14 times. Overall, good reason for India to feel good. I’m very happy about Fevicol work being shortlisted. Now, these are the brands India lives with. Ariel is also a brand that people know. When you see known brands doing well, it is a good sign for the country that you are not just doing ‘patli galis’ you are also doing some good work.
What has been your conversation with your global CEO John Seifert?
Piyush: There was a council meeting with the new global CEO. We are in a very good place he is a man who has spent 37 years in Ogilvy, one of the very few who has put in more years than me in the company! He has spent time in Asia earlier. He is truly an Ogilvy believer. He has lived and learnt Ogilvy. He sees the value that Miles Young had contributed and he sees the continuity and the change according to where we have reached. We are in a good place of transition we have a wonderful solid man taking over. One can only look forward to progressive days at Ogilvy.
What about meeting clients? How many of your clients are here?
Piyush: International clients like Phil Chapman from Mondelez are here. Unilever clients are here... Ajay Kakar from Aditya Birla Group is here. Anshu Malik from Adani Wilmar came and left early.
Have you been to the Gutter Bar?
Piyush: My shutter is down before the Gutter opens! I go to sleep at 10.30-11 pm. I went on Day 1, but nobody was there.
If there were to be a new category to be introduced at the Cannes Lions next year, what would it be?
Rajiv: Prasoon Pandey and I were joking about this. It could be anything like the Best Light Man or Spot Boy. Well, to answer your question, the new category for Cannes could be the Agriculture Lions after the Health Lions.