'As jurors at Cannes, we should add more weight to idea and execution than final numbers'

Cannes jury member and Lowe Lintas CCO Prateek Bhardwaj says that he hopes to see real work that offers real solutions at the fest this year

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri
Published: May 24, 2021 8:37 AM  | 3 min read
Prateek Bhardwaj

Cannes Lions recently announced its jury line-up of global experts selected to award the world’s very best creative work and benchmark excellence this June. Among the few Indians that are a part of the jury is Prateek Bhardwaj, Chief Creative Officer, Lowe Lintas.

Bhardwaj is among the most awarded copywriters in India and has worked on campaigns like Nescafé (stammering comedian and RJ), Mastercard (reunion), Ministry of Health, India (family planning), Ministry of Public Health, Afghanistan (immunity charm), Nestlé Corporate (breastfeeding), and Reckitt-Benckiser (Dettol and Harpic), among others.

Under his leadership, his teams have also won Grand Prix for Good at Cannes Lions 2017, and Black Pencil at D&AD Impact, for Immunity Charm, and Grande Lotus, Promo, at Adfest 2017, for Nescafé etc. We chat with the creative maestro on judging the Lions virtually this year, what he will be looking for in entries, best memories from the good ol’ days of the in-person event of Cannes Lions and more.

Edited excerpts below:

How does judging the Lions virtually this year feel to you?

Your question actually made me realise that this virtual judging isn’t actually normal. Over a year of working online has made this feel like the norm. I’m worried about adapting back to real life now.

Can you share any of your best memories from the in-person Cannes Lions event that you really cherish?

Right now, all I can think of is my first meeting with the brilliant Talha Nazim, to whom covid has so unfairly taken from us. I bumped into Talha in one of the cafes at Cannes. Both of us were trying to catch a quick lunch and then head back to the Palais. But then we got talking and all other plans were forgotten. I was blown away by his intellect and warmth, and we talked all the way through till late evening. Despite having never met before, it felt like having found a long-lost friend. It’s connections like these that will be missed in a virtual Cannes.

What would you look for in entries in order for them to stand out from the rest? What metrics wow you in entries?

Cultural context. For me, it’s the one big differentiator between smart work and great work. And that’s what I always look for. As for results, it’s easy to be swayed by numbers but I try to judge the creative solution itself. Because results are affected by a lot of factors, and as creative jurors, we should be adding more weight to the idea and execution than the final numbers.

Which are the categories at Cannes that you have seen really evolved over the years?

The Health & Wellness category is a relatively younger category, and it has already become one of the most keenly watched. This year, with the impact of covid, the category assumes even more importance. And I’ll give you some inside info on the work that I’ve already judged – it is phenomenal. It’s so inspiring to see the role that agencies have played in helping brands and people navigate times like these.

What do you hope you’ll see in the overall work at Cannes in 2021? Conversely, what do you hope you won’t see in this year’s entries?

I hope the work is real, and offers real solutions. Scam in a year like this would be so disappointing and exploitative.

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