And the Grand Prix went to 'Savlon Healthy Hands'

Kainaz Karmakar and Harshad Rajadhyaksha, Chief Creative Officers, Ogilvy India speak to exchange4media on the big win at Cannes 2018, working with Sonal and they decode what makes people stick to the agency for the longest of time.

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri
Published: Jul 6, 2018 8:57 AM  | 6 min read

It was quite a win when Ogilvy India this year brought home the bling. Yes, they won the highly-prized and sought-after Grand Prix at Cannes 2018. After all, it has a special place in the Lions roster due to the nature of the award and Ogilvy India created history by fetching the country’s second Grand Prix in a year which is nothing but the stuff of legend. Kainaz Karmakar and Harshad Rajadhyaksha, Chief Creative Officers, Ogilvy India who are at the helm of this creativity at Ogilvy India spoke to exchange4media on the big win, working with Sonal Dabral and they decode what makes people stick to the agency for the longest of time.

Edited excerpts below:

Your thoughts on winning the Grand Prix for ‘Savlon Healthy Hands’. Did you see this coming?

Harshad: It’s an amazing feeling. First of all, it’s not only the first Grand Prix of our lives and careers but is also Ogilvy India’s first Grand Prix. And the fact that the Grand Prix happened on the same evening as when Piyush and Prasoon Pandey were felicitated means a lot. The two events happening in such proximity of each other made it more special.

Kainaz: We hadn’t thought about or predicted this. The campaign was very well-received across Cannes and the juries. Also in the country, we started with schools and have crossed 5,000 schools. When we were sending the case, we had a lot of hope that the jury will take into account that the purpose for which the chalks were created has been successful. Other countries have written to us appreciating it and asking about the chalks.

What according to you are the areas that require attention and improvement in terms of India’s performance at Cannes?

Kainaz: It is a huge improvement for India to win so many big metals and two Grands Prix in one year and a bunch of golds. The were some debates on the number of metals being less than last year but those things keep changing because all elements can’t be controlled by us. The fact that we’re coming up with ideas that are being recognised on the international stage and are receiving such top honours makes me feel really proud of how India did this year.

Harshad: It is no doubt that last year was an amazing year. India bagged 40 metals and one-fourth of these came from Ogilvy, so it was a matter of pride. We don’t know when India will cross the magical 40 mark but the quality of the wins and the sheer fact of us winning two Grands Prix is what matters. Even among the whole galaxy of awards and categories out there, titanium and creative effectiveness are two categories which are considered to be even more special and they’re the toughest ones to win, so it is a matter of pride for India.

So how big is the pressure in India, compared to the rest of the world?

Kainaz: It’s a responsibility and an honour for your agency if you are recognised and your client and your idea gets on the world stage. The work we’ve done has gotten us, not just trophies sitting on our desk, but world recognition towards an important cause which deserves attention. So we don’t look at it as pressure.

It’s going to be a year on Sonal Dabral’s comeback to the agency. How has working with him been?

Kainaz: We worked with Sonal very closely around a couple of projects. Especially when we were wrapping our heads around what should go to Cannes. He is quite brave in the way he works and he encouraged us to send as much great work to Cannes. He has worked out of the country and brings in a different point of view which is something we often tap into.

Harshad: As you know, Ogilvy has been a creative powerhouse for quite a few decades now. He comes with his own set of experiences and it’s nice for us to work closely with him. This exchange of experiences also influences the final output.

On a lighter note, people at Ogilvy have been at the agency for decades. What is the secret behind these records?

Kainaz: Ogilvy is a very fertile ground for great work

Harshad: I think the very fact that Ogilvy has been on the top of its game for well over two decades now and continues to do so is correlated to your question. Even consciously or subconsciously, having a feeling that things are going right and we’re getting to do the work we want to do must be the formula.

What will be your creative strategy as we go forward?

Kainaz: There is only one creative strategy in the business which is great work, great ideas and to solve a client’s problem in as unique and fresh a way as possible. Awards are just a by-product of that.

Agencies world-over are grappling with budgetary pressures, declining client fees and are even opting out of awards. Some of them also began to sit-out this year’s Cannes. Your comment?

Harshad: I think from an overall scheme of things, we can understand where the holding companies were coming from. They clearly had a reason. Last year was a year when, despite of it being one of our best years, Ogilvy hadn’t sent anyone to Cannes. The stand-off has resulted in Cannes taking due cognizance of the fact and improving the festival. So we did see that the new format which is a more streamlined five-day format is easier to take in rather than the slightly bloated seven-eight day format. It’s commendable that the Cannes committee hasn’t chosen to be deaf to it. They’ve taken in the valid factors and worked towards it. Those were monetary requirements dictating certain networks. But it has helped the festival.

At a craft level, how are client budgets at this point?

Kainaz: That depends on the idea. There are certain realities that we must keep in mind. The fact that how expensive media is and stuff like that. We’ve been very lucky with our bunch of clients and had a great equation. They know the value of good execution. I don’t think that we have ever hit a roadblock where we had to say, this could have been better if the client would have put more money.

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