It was truly a Jai Ho moment for India, marred only by the absence of any Indian to pick up the single Gold Media Lion, which also won a Silver.
Tonight, India won its higher ever medal tally in the 10th year of the Media Lions – a solid 8, the highest in Asia, tying with Germany and Australia, and behind only the USA (13) and the UK (12). 15 per cent of the 77 entries submitted from India made it to the shortlist, significantly higher than the average, and most of them won a metal.
A jury of 29 top media professionals including three global CEO’s and two regional CEO’s, led by an ebullient Nick Brien, made this an unforgettable experience for me. The prevailing attitude was positive, encouraging and enlightened, rather than petty, competitive, or judgmental. Long hours of jury duty (one night we finished at 10 pm) were interspersed with spontaneous bouts of clapping, Mexican waves, and Nick handing out chocolates, to ease the strain.
The work we saw was fantastic, of a very high standard. Integration across digital and traditional media was seamless and pervasive across all the continents. We were specifically programmed to look for real business results, and media-creative integration, and found plenty, since the quota for proven success was increased this year from 20 per cent to 35 per cent. The power of web 2.0 to spread a message much beyond planned and/or paid for media was evident in several cases.
The adrenalin pumping ‘Jai Ho’ soundtrack for the Gillette India Votes entry, already a winner of other awards, had some of the judges dancing during the voting sessions. I really wish Hemen Desai could have made it to Cannes to collect India’s only gold and silver metals for this work, well lauded by judges from every corner of the earth. The Tata group should be pleased, a metal each for the Tata Sky Pause in live cricket, which won at Goafest, and for the Tata Nano nanovations, while the Titan Fastrack-Radio One partnership made it to the shortlist.
A simple entry by O&M Bangalore for SAB Miller using elusive coasters with magnets that repelled beer mugs in pubs, to spread a ‘don’t drive after drinking’ message, brought a chuckle to many a judge, and a bronze.
I was hoping to see some great work from India using radio and was not disappointed, with two of the three on the shortlist from here. And the Nokia Touch entry, which won a Bronze, was truly a deserving winner.
However, there was also some measure of disappointment. Not a single entry from India in the heavily supported categories of internet, digital and mobile media, and also in large scale ambient media. Most of the Indian shortlisted entries were in the traditional space – television, radio, mixed media and FMCG.
Five of the eight Indian metals were won by media agencies (MediaCom, Maxus, Madison and Lodestar Universal), which should also be good reason to rejoice since in this category too, as with all the others, creative agencies did dominate the space. This year however, the media agency partner had to be named in the entry to encourage collaboration.
I am not ashamed to say that I pushed hard for an entry submitted by In Gandhi’s Shoes, to win a metal, and it did. The NGO stuck post-its with Gandhiji’s sayings on rupee notes near the Mahatma’s face (a blind spot to all of us) and had 600 shopkeepers in Safdarjung distribute them as change. Many of their customers would have lost their loved ones in the blasts. Next to another fantastic ‘money’ entry from the Zimbabwe newspaper, which won two Golds, and a Grand Prix at the Outdoor Lions, this seemed small, but if all of you readers take it upon yourself to make similar post-its on all the notes you hand out, won’t we help to “be the change we want to be”?