Indian Advertising Fraternity Welcomes Cannes Lions Overhaul

The revamp introduces multiple changes that will simplify and streamline the process, reduce costs for agencies, and focus squarely on creativity

e4m by Venkata Susmita Biswas
Published: Nov 15, 2017 9:13 AM  | 4 min read

The Indian advertising fraternity's reaction to the revamp of the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity has been overwhelmingly positive.

The revamp, which was prompted by the severe criticism organisers faced from advertising holding companies, introduces multiple changes that will simplify and streamline the process, reduce costs for agencies, and focus squarely on creativity. “The overhaul does address some of the major issues holding companies had highlighted in the past. From an agency point of view, all the steps taken are in the positive direction,” noted Arun Iyer, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer, Lowe Lintas.

Category Consolidation

One of the major aspects of the overhaul is that the Lions will be organised across nine core tracks to “better reflect and support the fast-moving creative industries.” The festival’s content programme (speakers, panel sessions and workshops) will also follow the newly defined tracks. This streamlining was imperative as it was becoming difficult to classify campaigns into what categories they fell under. 
Agnello Dias, Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer, Taproot Dentsu, who was on the Cannes Lions jury last year, said the overhaul addresses the main pain points to a large extent. Speaking about his jury experience, he said, “Judging is difficult as a large part of the discussion is wasted on what qualifies and what does not, instead of how good the piece actually is. Last year was the first time I felt that it had reached a stage where everything qualifies for everything.”

The organisers have also introduced a cap on the number of categories for which one campaign can be nominated. Each piece of work can now only be entered into a maximum of six Lions. This move will ensure more campaigns are recognised and awarded. Iyer particularly appreciated this change, noting that in the older format, only a handful of campaigns were packaged and entered into multiple categories. “This led to deserving entries getting side-lined. Now, a lot of the good work that used to get overlooked will get noticed,” said Rajiv Dingra, Founder and CEO, WAT Consult.

The Cyber, Integrated and Promo & Activation Lions have been discontinued. The organisers believe that separate categories for Cyber and Integrated Lions “do not make sense anymore,”as all campaigns are now integrated. Promo & Activation, which is highly important in retail, will be covered under the Brand Experience Lions category. Of this restructuring, Dingra said, “Cyber Lions was becoming too broad a category, given that every campaign now has a digital element to it and the term Cyber itself is a 2001 term. To turn that into Social and Influencer Lions was long overdue.” The new Lions being introduced include Creative e-commerce, Social & Influencer, Industry Craft, Brand Experience, and Sustainable Development Goals.

Cost Issues

The new pricing policy reduces the price of the complete pass by €900. Additionally, the organisers guarantee a fixed price for delegates of €80 for taxis from Cannes to Nice Airport and three fixed-price menus of €20, €30 and €50 for pass-holders at more than 50 restaurants in the city.

“Trying to make attendance affordable is a damn good idea!” exclaimed Iyer noting that sending delegates is a hugely expensive affair and lowering costs helps agencies. “All of these changes will improve the accessibility of the festival to the Indian advertising community. Agencies can now take more people to the festival,” said Dingra.

A five-day programme instead of an eight-day one will sharpen the focus on the festival and hold the attention of all the attendees. Noting a shorter event will reduce costs, Dias said that the “greater benefit is that it reduces cerebral blur.” Iyer said that bringing the entire event down to five days is a move in the right direction.

Going Forward

Now that festival organisers have made some moves to reduce the monetary pressure on agencies, KV Sridhar, Founder of Hypercollective, said, “Agencies must compensate employees within the agencies and focus on training and development of talent within the agency instead of spending heavily on award festivals. Talent enrichment must be a key focus area given that the advertising industry is facing a major talent crunch.” He cautioned against the addiction of awards and advised agencies to rationalise the amount of money that should be spent on awards.

While the fresh outlook of the Cannes Lions organisers has been well received, there is greater scope to improve the quality of the content at the festival. “The standard of sessions has dropped and it is now just a big pitching bazaar where everyone just pitches whatever they are doing. If we can get back to the enriching sessions of earlier times, where there used to be a massive takeaway of a different kind, that would be good,” said Dias.

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