Cannes Juror Speak: Companies don't scam & don't believe in scam: Colvyn Harris

The CEO of JWT South Asia, who is on the jury for the Creative Effectiveness category at Cannes Lions 2014, talks about what it will take India to win in the category, his favourite Cannes memories and more...

by Priyanka Mehra
Published - Jun 11, 2014 8:51 AM Updated: Jun 11, 2014 8:51 AM
Cannes Juror Speak: Companies don't scam & don't believe in scam: Colvyn Harris

Colvyn Harris, CEO, JWT South Asia is on the jury for the Creative Effectiveness category at Cannes Lions 2014. In conversation with exchange4media, he talks about what it will take India to win in the category, his favourite Cannes memories, the unfairness of a company’s integrity being questioned when individuals run after fame resulting in scam and more...

What do you think it will take India to win in the Creative Effectiveness category? What are the areas that we need to work on?
As much as creativity and ideas are important, the benchmarking on result and effectiveness has an equal weightage. Evidence is what the jury will look for.

For India to do well, our packaging must improve, to support the evidence with proof points, which can be established as facts. Finally it is metrics – if you can’t prove the metrics, you can’t win.

What is the creative effectiveness score you would give India as of now?
Three or four – this is basis last year’s shortlist and award winners.

For a country that is said to have great creative talent, what are the challenges that Indian agencies need to overcome to ‘up’ their performance at Cannes?
It is the sensibility; we operate in an Indian environment, the global jury must understand the ethos or the cultural difference that exists in the country. I think that is where there is a mismatch; work that we love, may not be the work that the rest of the world loves, that difference needs to bridged. Having said that, there is fantastic work done globally, so we are competing on a very level playing field. From what I have seen, the work globally has an edge – with a combination of great work, production and great packaging, backed by evidence and proof points of bringing about a change. Fundamentally, it is important to get your strategy right – great strategy leads to a great idea. Where we seem to lose is when we need to address an issue that advertising must solve or resolve; many times we get straight into creativity and the creative idea. We must crack the strategy and get it right, and then get into the ideation.

Creativity is a tool; if advertising doesn’t work in the marketplace, who are you keeping happy?

How do you balance between presenting your country’s case as part of the jury and doing the right thing?
I will just do what is right, when you go in wearing a jury cap, it is all about the piece and the work, it doesn’t matter which country it is from at that moment.  If some of the work is being unfairly judged because of comprehension, or if someone doesn’t understand the cultural nuances, then you have voice.

There was talk of scam work being part of the winning work at Cannes last year. Do you think the incidence of scam work is going to decrease?
You can identify an opportunity around a client’s business and proactively take it to him, even though it is out of scope. If the client chooses to run it, it is not scam.

Global companies do not risk their reputation built over the years for a little fame.

Companies do not scam, and do not believe in scam. The integrity and purpose of a company shouldn’t be put up for speculation, when people are the ones who created that scam and they are chasing their own ambitions, fame and glory.

What is your best memory of Cannes so far (personal and work-related)?
When we stood up on the stage with the Indian flag when we won the Grand Prix (Lead India campaign for The Times of India), it was our proudest moment. Over the years we won for a lot of work, first time when we won for ICICI – a Gold in the Direct category – I was in Contract. We weren’t really aware of what we had achieved. My best moment is yet to come.

You must look at Cannes like a week of great inspiration, great food, meeting a lot of people you don’t otherwise meet; the fraternity comes together and you see some great work.

Personally, it was going on the Microsoft yatch, sailing for 2-3 hours; they were 10 of us, we spent the day out and had a lovely lunch. 

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