I have been following Cannes 2012 with a keen eye. We had a strong entry, which finally won a silver apart from three shortlists. And the Cheil Network rocked with a total tally of 13 Lions. But that’s not what this article is about. What this is about is the fact that team India did not do well. We had over 1100 entries in all and just a handful of metal to show. And the reason is stark and staring at the Indian ad industry in the face. We are way too traditional in our thinking. Almost all the Indian entries were in print medium or film. Most of them were seen for the first time at the judging.
There is enough talk about how social media is the new mantra. How it is important to be integrated. But I do see a little more in what's happening than a simple shift of medium.
Most of the winning and inspiring work this year was a two and a half minute case film. Not a thirty-second TVC. And what the case film did was not just present the idea but present the results. That's the shift. It's not about the idea or creativity anymore. It's about how effective the idea has been. Cannes is no longer just a festival of creativity. It is a festival of creative effectiveness.
That’s hard to grasp. Which means Cannes is no longer the bastion of creative minds. It's more about minds that can move people. The American Express idea got the President of USA tweeting. How cool is that! Ideas at Cannes are no longer just watched and admired…They are moving people, changing lives. The boundaries between communication, action and product have fallen. I mean is Nike Plus an advertising idea or an innovative new product?
Going into the next few years, Indian ad networks have to fundamentally change the way they look at their business and how they approach Cannes. Cannes is a mirror and what it has shown us this year is that we are way too backward in our approach and we have the wrong mix of people leading the charge.
Here are my observations on what we need to do to win again, even rule Cannes. First and foremost, stop thinking print. Fancy art and Photoshop jobs aren’t going to win it anymore and we all know they are just fake. Think what will move people. Every idea has to be integrated. But integrated does not mean we have to do a lot of things. It just means think cross media. Social is important. But a lot of winning work was OOH, the oldest advertising medium. It's OOH combined with technology and activation. At the heart of these ideas is a simple belief. How do we move people into action? Look at the EMart idea – Simple, Exciting, Brilliant.
The second is to shift thinking from what will inspire judges to what will inspire and move people. Include people. That’s what social media is all about. Social media is not broadcast. People forget that and do Facebook blasts. Social media is simply what people embrace and promote. You can't do that with money.
Thirdly, a great idea is one which takes traditional thinking to newer media. It is really about disruption. Invent a new media and you are bound to win. Isn't that what all the new-age Internet companies are all about?
Finally results…It's not the idea but the results that make a difference. It is the case study, not just a presentation. The better the results, the higher the chances for winning! This alone fundamentally means that the people behind the ideas are ones who like to measure themselves by results and not by their personal brilliance. And this is where I think team India needs to make a real shift.
As far as I am concerned, I am going back to school again. Wipe out all I have ever learnt and think ideas that move people!
The author is Chief Operating Officer, Cheil Worldwide India