Cannes Lions 2017: Still a long way to go in Digital; time to reflect Mobile, Creative Data no-show

India has not won a metal in the Mobile, Digital Craft, Creative Data categories since 2014

e4m by Venkata Susmita Biswas
Published: Jun 27, 2017 8:02 AM  | 4 min read

In 2014, India won four metals in the Cyber Lions category while bagging just one bronze metal in 2016 in the same category. It did not manage to win any metals at all in the Mobile, Digital Craft and Creative Data categories from 2014-2017. That no Indian entry made it to the shortlist of these categories reflects on the quality of the digital campaigns coming out of India. Experts from the industry believe that Indian campaigns are not yet very tech savvy and identify it as an area where India needs to improve.



Digital Craft



Creative Data

Print and Publishing

Entertainment Lions for Music


Speaking about a certain lack of innovative work in the digital space in India, Sanjay Mehta, Jt CEO, Mirum India said, “Historically, we have not had a great record in these categories for some reason. India has shown better performance in traditional categories like Print, Outdoor etc.” This year, the Cat/Dog/Rabbit campaign for World for All by McCann Worldgroup India won a silver metal in the Outdoor Lions category. The campaign used optical illusions to communicate its message.

Mehta said that India’s television advertising legacy heavily influences most of the digital work as well. “Some of the bigger digital work in India ends up being videos; these don’t end up being differentiating in terms of pure digital work. By and large, the work we do in India in the digital sphere is not that cutting edge in terms of technology or innovation.” He clarified that “this is not because we do not have the capability, but because it requires higher budgets; clients are willing to put money on media but are hesitant to invest in the technology component. And, I don’t see that attitude changing in a hurry.”

The campaigns that win in digital categories like Cyber Lions, Mobile Lions, and Creative Data Lions etc, have a very high technical finesse and a large technical budget. These campaigns are led by ideas that are on a larger scale than what we see in India, he added. Garima Khandelwal, Executive Creative Officer, Mullen Lintas, concurred with Mehta and said that digital is still an extension of traditional advertising for us here in India. “The fact that the consumption of these mediums is still not as evolved for the country as it is for the west is also why the craft in these categories is still very nascent,” she said.

Kasper Rorsted, CEO, Adidas recently said that the brand’s entire marketing initiatives will now move to digital channels because all of the company’s consumer engagement is on mobile devices. Despite the proverbial ‘Jio Boom’, Indian brands will continue to be present on mainline media because “a lot of the work takes place in the real world,” said Prathap Suthan, MD and CCO, Bang in the Middle. He added that, “India is many many years behind the West in terms of cracking ideas which are digitally very savvy.”  

Amrith Gopinath, Brand and Activation Director, Adidas India, shared these sentiments about the Indian performance and noted that in comparison to agencies from other parts of the world, Indian agencies need to improve their technical expertise in areas like special effects. Gopinath said that he saw a lot less of such technical work from India this year.

What now?

Vivek Bhargava, CEO, DAN Performance Group, felt that one has to acquaint oneself with the quality and range of work that is showcased at Cannes Lions if one intends to compete for the awards. “If one wants to win at Cannes, as a start, we need to start attending the festival. When you attend Cannes you realize what it takes to win awards, the quality of submissions to be entered, the larger than life thinking and the ability to collaborate rather than individual thinking,” he said.  Mehta felt that the quantity of such work also needs to increase. “To be a contender for an award, there should be a lot of work of happening in the Indian marketplace for even one to get into that shortlist,” he said.   

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