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JWT brings home India’s first-ever Grand Prix; Contract wins too
June 17, 08
Noor Fathima Warsia

The 55th Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival has created a new record for India. This is the first time that an Indian agency has won a Grand Prix, the honours going to JWT India. JWT India’s campaign ‘Lead India’ for advertiser The Times of India has walked away with the highest and most prestigious recognition in the Direct Awards category.

The Direct Awards brought two more metals for India, both picked up by Contract Advertising. The agency has won a Silver and a Bronze for ‘Help Me Read This’ for Children of the World. Last year, India had won a total of two metals in this category.

Direct Awards Jury President Marcio Salem, President & Creative Director, Salem, said, “The Lead India campaign was an absolutely brilliant piece of work. It had all the makings of a Grand Prix winner when we first saw it. The best thing about it was the simple idea with which the campaign began, and the scale that it eventually got to. That was very important.”

“It was wonderful to see this kind of effort. This entry had 27 votes and that is quite a majority from the jury that agreed on this entry winning a Grand Prix,” elaborated Salem.

Nishabd Ramachandran, VP & Group Creative Director, Contract Advertising, added, “There were people in the jury who didn’t agree but at the end of it, there were many more who were behind the idea.”

JWT India was competing with some of its own international offices for this Grand Prix. Closely contending were JWT Costa Rica for its work done for Nelka Rent-a-Car and JWT London for the work done for MTV Foundation.

Needless to say, JWT India CEO Colvyn Harris is delighted. He said, “This is India’s first Grand Prix and that is fabulous; the fact that JWT India got it is even better. I believe that the content of the ad also deserves a mention. This was something done for a nation and not market share.”

The brain behind the campaign, Agnello Dias, CCO, JWT India, who accompanied Harris to the glamorous Cannes Lions stage, too is elated, though in his quiet way. When asked whether he was expecting the Grand Prix, Dias said, “Does anyone ever expect a Grand Prix? We knew this was a great entry and we knew it would do well, but this is great.”

Creative thought leaders Piyush Pandey, Chairman & NCD, Ogilvy & Mather India, is also happy and voiced what all Indians are feeling at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. He said, “India has won a Grand Prix, and that is brilliant.”

Promo Lions

Promo Lions winners were also announced on the day. The only winner in this category is JWT India. The agency has bagged a Bronze for its work ‘Stretch Festival’ done for the Government of Pondicherry. Last year, too, India had won only one metal in this category, and that was again by JWT India.

India had sent 30 entries in all, and Jury President Armin Jochum, CCO, BBDO, Stuttgart, believes that the work was good. He said, “There was some interesting work that was seen. Overall, we believe that there is quality in the kind of work that Indian agencies are doing. It just has to grow more in the right direction from here.”

Promo Lions juror Roshan Abbas, MD, Encompass, added, “There is some distance for us to cover but we need more client support in India. Some of the work that I saw was fantastic and it was great to see that globally clients and agencies work so closely together for Promos. We have to take our lessons from that. Also, Indian agencies sent quite a bit of work that was done before. Me-too work would never win.”

Needless to say, the highlight of the day was the Grand Prix. It may be recalled that in 2006 JWT India’s work done for Levi’s, the creative of which was again Agnello Dias’ brainchild, had narrowly lost a Grand Prix in the Press Lions category. The Jury President had explained at that time that it was a matter of a few points that took the Grand Prix away from JWT India.

From there to now, for Dias, Harris and their teams, this is a moment to cherish, and they are already celebrating.

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