Cannes Lions Special: Ads need to sell products, not win awards : Arunabh Das Sharma

The President, Bennett, Coleman & Co talks about how India needs to up its performance and clearly distinguish between adapting & integrating campaigns across mediums

e4m by Priyanka Mehra
Updated: Jun 17, 2014 9:57 AM
Cannes Lions Special: Ads need to sell products, not win awards : Arunabh Das Sharma

Arunabh Das Sharma, President, Bennett, Coleman & Co talks about how India needs to up its performance, and clearly distinguish between adapting and integrating campaigns across mediums and more...

On Cannes Lions 2014...
Cannes, like every year, is a great mind-opening experience. Whatever is happening in the area of strategy, marketing meeting technology, mobile overtaking the normal desktop, gets showcased very well at Cannes.

Secondly, you get to meet a lot of people, which is great, though from India you may not meet due to our hectic schedules there.

Thirdly, I was just looking at some of the work in Press; and I would say there is a decline of creativity in press in India. Some of the creativity I saw in this category today from around the world is spectacular.

Cannes is all about meeting people, seeing what is going on in the world, it is time very well spent as far as I am concerned.

You spoke about the work in the Press category, what about the work in Print and Print Craft?
I personally think that most creatives in India right now are being made for one medium, which is TV, and then being adapted for different media. It is being adapted for print, radio and digital, when you do that, you are not utilising the power of the medium, so when you take one thing and try and adapt it to another medium, you are missing the power of that medium.

There is a difference between having a campaign that is to be integrated and a campaign meant for one medium and then adapting it. I think, we have forgotten that distinction; what we do is we take the same idea and try and adapt.

A campaign can have similar ideas, similar cues, exactly the same strategy, but leverage the power of the medium.

What do you think we need to do to improve our overall performance at Cannes?
At a very basic level, I don’t believe we have enough entries, the moment we ramp up our number of entries, we will start seeing a difference. I saw some ads (I won’t name the agency), which have never appeared in India, the fact of the matter is you cannot hope to win just by creating ads for awards. Things that make sense to people are what sell products, ads need to sell products not win awards.

If you look at the number of delegates, even from smaller countries like Brazil, you index the number of people and number of entries coming and India is nowhere near.

We have been trying to get more and more Indian jury in, because a lot of our advertising requires cultural understanding, which can only happen when there is more and more jury. That is again linked to how many entries we have in the country, how many delegates come, it is a whole cycle that we need to get right; and currently we are not getting it right.

What are your expectations from Cannes Lions 2014?
I hope we win strong metals. I am not saying let’s come second or third. Once we do well here, it also sets up a cycle back home, to say ‘we have won so many Golds, we won Grand Prixs, let’s go back and best the record’. But unfortunately, I have seen very poor shortlists coming from India till now, that really saddens me.

I also hope more and more clients come; Cannes is not an agency festival, it is a very client-focused forum, it has moved away from being just an advertising festival, it has become a festival of strategy, and a lot more.

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