How we CANNED it!

McCann Worldgroup’s Grand Prix, major wins by Ogilvy & Mather, Leo Burnett, BBDO India, Wieden & Kennedy and L&K Saatchi&Saatchi add up to India’s all-time best performance of 40 metals at Cannes. Technology meets social purpose to bring about change and add meaning to people’s lives

e4m by Srabana Lahiri
Updated: Jun 27, 2017 7:37 AM

I am thrilled, says Prasoon Joshi about McCann’s Grand Prix for ‘Immunity Charm’

O&M’s ‘Savlon Healthy Hands Chalk Sticks’ wins metals across multiple categories

Leo Burnett wins India’s first ever Innovation Lion for #RoadsThatHonk

BBDO India’s #ShareTheLoad gets Creative Effectiveness Gold

L&K Saatchi&Saatchi wins Glass Gold for #GiveHer5

Wieden+Kennedy, Mindshare win Gold for Nike’s Da Da Ding

Famous Innovations makes Cannes debut with Bronze for ‘The Proposal Box’

It was India Shining in full creative glory at the 64th Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity last week, putting up its all-time best performance with a haul of 40 metals. Last year, India had won 27 metals at Cannes.

Topping the metals chart was a Grand Prix for McCann WorldGroup/McCann Health’s campaign ‘Immunity Charm’, which leverages the Afghan tradition of tying talismanic bracelets on children’s arms to bring in improved vaccination and healthcare.

India did particularly well in the Creative Effectiveness category, bagging two Golds (for BBDO India’s Ariel #ShareTheLoad and Leo Burnett’s Bajaj V) and two Silvers, reiterating the fact that our advertising industry is all about creativity with a purpose, geared towards clear business objectives. Leo Burnett India’s ‘Roads that Honk’ campaign bagged a Silver, giving India its first ever metal in the Innovation category at the Cannes Lions.

Meanwhile, India’s domination in the Glass Lions category continued, with a Gold for L&K Saatchi & Saatchi’s #GiveHer5 campaign to promote menstrual hygiene among the underprivileged. However, India did not win a Glass Grand Prix this time and thus missed out on scoring a hat-trick, having won a Glass Grand Prix for Mindshare’s ‘Brooke Bond Red Label 6 Pack Band’ in 2016, and another for ‘Whisper-Touch the Pickle’ by BBDO India in the inaugural year of the Glass Lions in 2015.


If 2016 was the year of VR at Cannes, what was the over-riding central theme of conversations at the festival this year? Talking of the work that has won, we took this question to several people we met to find out what the overwhelming trend of the festival was, according to them.

“The trend is about creating things. About making something you can touch. ‘Fearless Girl’, ‘Immunity Charm’ and ‘Meet Graham’ are great examples of this. In all this, we saw a rise in technology-based ideas. Specially where technology meets social purpose. Also, data-driven innovations for greater good. All these dominated the scene at Cannes this year,” said Josy Paul, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer, BBDO India. 

According to Prasoon Joshi, Chairman, APAC and CEO & Chief Creative Officer, India, McCann WorldGroup, work that gets celebrated points to the pulse of industry and society in a larger context. “Not just communicators but marketers and manufacturers too are becoming more and more cognizant of the fact that there is a larger purpose and social good that one can strive for, apart from the immediate goals,” he said. “Adding meaning to people’s lives is key. Be it ‘The Fearless Girl’ or the ‘Immunity Charm’, which are both coincidentally from the McCann stable, both signify that they have touched hearts and moved minds because they  have  been able to add value to people’s lives. This is what the industry and brands look for and celebrate.”

Stating that technology invasion into our business is no more a claim, Prasanth Kumar, CEO of Mindshare South Asia, said, “The power of technology is to trigger creativity from insights, or leverage creativity to have better insights. More or less, issues and challenges across the world are very similar in terms of how do we get better thinking and more outcome for brands. I’d say that there is a lot of encouragement to some genres like Music of late.”

Saurabh Verma, ‎CEO, ‎Publicis Communications, India, too vouched for the creative power of technology and its powerful impact for advertisers.We had stated way back that we wanted to create Wave 3 in our work – Wave 1 being Print, Wave 2 being Hindi heartland Cinema and Wave 3 being Experiential, Branded Content, a narrative which is based on dialogue, conversation, interactive, giving people a platform where they can converge and do things together. At the moment, we are unleashing the creative power of technology, the power of media and awards all mixed together to create powerful impact for our clients,” he said.


India sent quite a large quantum of work to Cannes – 1,227 entries, to be precise, though the number is way below last year’s 1,315 Cannes contenders. Of the 1,227 entries, 40 converted to metals – giving a conversion rate of 3.25%.  Overall, the Cannes Lions festival received 41,170 entries from countries across the world. 


By John Seifert,

Worldwide Chairman & CEO,

Ogilvy & Mather

John Seifert image

At Cannes, I learnt that there is a difference between what occupies the conversation and what is actually resident in the work. So, I’d say high on conversation, still pretty limited in terms of work. You are going to start to see that change. Cannes is an extraordinary convention of the most influential players in the industry, in the broader sense. It’s no longer just an advertising creative festival. It is a festival that brings together all the essential players that are going to contribute to the sector of marketing communications. It’s a pretty complicated festival. It’s a lot to take in. And so the question in my mind is, has it become too ambitious? There are good arguments on both sides of that. For me, it has been an extraordinary week because this is the first time I have been on a jury. I am really proud to have been on the Creative Effectiveness jury because Creative Effectiveness is at the centre of how Ogilvy thinks about great work. It’s got to be highly creative and it’s got to create positive commercial outcomes. I learnt tons from all my jury panel members. We saw something like 160 cases, and more than half of them were very impressive indeed.

(As told to Srabana Lahiri)


Raj Deepak Das, Chief Creative Officer, Leo Burnett India, seemed particularly happy that the agency had bagged India’s first Innovation Lion, and India’s first Creative Effectiveness Lion – both for Indian brands. “Both the brands - HP Petroleum and Bajaj - are Indian brands. What more can you expect? If you can get Indian brands on to the international stage, that’s what we want as a creative industry. That shows creativity has the power to change things,” said Das.

The creative leaders on Savlon Healthy Hands Chalk Sticks, Kainaz Karmakar and Harshad Rajadhyaksha of Ogilvy & Mather, were happy that their simple, surprising idea had clicked. “That is the reason why juries from around the world have thought it to be worthy of such heavy metals, in such large numbers. Beauty Tips by Reshma also got us the highly regarded Lion for Creative Effectiveness. The honesty of this campaign cuts through the clutter and goes straight to the heart. We are beyond happy and we share this glory with our rockstar teams and our brave clients,” they said.


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