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Piyush Pandey: Cannes is like French Open

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Piyush Pandey: Cannes is like French Open

What’s so special about Cannes, you may ask. And who better to answer this question than the man who stands tall amongst all the gurus of advertising--Piyush Pandey.

“Cannes? It’s the mother of every other award ceremony. A six-day long celebration of talent from across the world that helps you rub shoulders with the best of the best within the realm of advertising and helps you broaden your mind as far as radical ideas, thought processes and altercating views are concerned. There are seminars by the day which enrich you with vital information on the nuances of brand building and offer you opportunities in networking. On the flip side, it brings in a platform wherein you are judged by your international peers and your value in the international market is revealed,” asserts a candid Pandey.

Pandey was voted Asia’s Creative Person of the Year in 2002 and in the same year he was also a member of the film jury at Cannes. Winning numerous international and national awards, including five Lions in 2003 alone, Pandey has been instrumental in taking O&M to the forefront of creativity with his agency being awarded Creative Agency of the Year in India a record seven times in eight years. Cannes 2004 would see Pandey as President of the 2004 Film and Press & Outdoor jury.

Propelling an international jury is no small task. What does Pandey feel about the new responsibility that now rests on his shoulders? He answers, “It’s quite an honour to have been given the distinction of being appointed as the Jury President (Film and Print & Outdoor). But I think that my being chosen for the job has a lot to do with the quality of creative output that’s been pouring out from India and Asia. Guess I was lucky enough to be at the right place, at the right time.”

He adds, “Undoubtedly, it’s a big responsibility since both the juries comprise 24 people each, esteemed individuals in their respective fields who have been selected by the organisers of Cannes Lions Festival after much deliberation. The task before me would be to guide the jury, keeping in mind the high standards that are involved. The mandate requires me to be unbiased, to play fair and to maintain an open mind and a broad outlook towards all the entries and to guide the jury accordingly. At the end of the day, we have to collectively reach a decision and give talent its rightful due.”

How does an international jury work differently from an Indian one? And what are India‘s chances this time around? Pandey asserts, “It’s like comparing the Ranji Trophy with the World Cup. I guess it’s different with the international jury since they need to understand the idea in its local flavour. If you remember the commercial wherein a single file is being pushed around in a government office (a Times of India commercial taken on by Enterprise Nexus), the jury was quite perplexed by it since they were not too familiar with this kind of a bureaucratic set-up. But since the commercial interested them, they asked pointed questions and got to know more about it and the entry won! Just because it’s an international jury, you can’t underestimate it. As long as the idea is big enough, the language or the localised approach just doesn’t hinder its chances.”

Speaking of chances, how about a bit of fortune telling from Pandey’s side? He grins, “The gods that rule the advertising world have indeed been kind to us. In the past two years, India has picked ten Lions at Cannes. But you can’t take things for granted. Everything depends on the merits of the work that’s being presented. The beauty of the Cannes award ceremony is that you just can’t predict anything. Ten Lions is a big deal, but it doesn’t come with a guarantee of any kind. It’s like a French Open. Last time’s champion may lose the first round.”

How would Pandey peg advertising in India vis-a-vis the global scene? He states, “In any country (be it an advanced or developing), 10 per cent of the work that can be rated as exceptional and 90 per cent can be rated as ‘trashy.’ In India, we have around 5 per cent which can be comparable to the best in the world and 95 per cent which can be rated as trashy. But what’s important is that the percentage of good work is definitely on the rise.”

Where’s Indian advertising headed? Pandey quips, “Indian advertising is getting bolder, brighter and a lot more radical. We have already announced our arrival to the rest of the world. And now it’s time to take it one step ahead.”


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Prior to joining Madison PR in 2012 Chaudhary was Group President Corporate Communications at Reliance Industries Limited.