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Cannes 2015: I detest people who sell poverty and issues in this country to try and win an award: Sajan Raj Kurup

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Cannes 2015: I detest people who sell poverty and issues in this country to try and win an award: Sajan Raj Kurup

Sajan Raj Kurup, Founder & Creative Chairman, Creativeland Asia Group, who is on the Outdoor Jury, is looking forward to seeing work from across the world which involves the kind of technology that will make him change his definition of Outdoor media.

What are you looking forward to judging at Cannes, as a member of the Outdoor Jury?

I am looking forward to getting some really interesting, surprising entries to look at, primarily which involve certain amount of technology. I am looking at something which will change the definition of Outdoor for me, and that is what has happened, every time I have been to Cannes, there has always been work, which I am like, ‘Oh, my God, I didn’t look at it this way’ and especially with a category like Outdoor which in India is still primarily a display medium and not such an innovative medium. It will be very interesting to see where the world is going and what sort of technology is getting integrated into it and at the same time I would love to see some pure play simple ideas which are traditional and see what comes out of them.

How has the work in the Outdoor category been throughout the year, globally and in India?

I have seen some interesting work happening out of Japan which is interesting and there are things that are redefining the medium, that is what is interesting and one is left saying, is this Outdoor or is it not, and when you really sit down and think about it, you  say ‘Wow, that is such a clever use of Outdoor!’. Gone are the days when Outdoor was just about a traditional billboard or poster. Not to belittle them, I think ideas are still beautifully expressed even in a poster, but what I am going to be looking for is how Outdoor is keeping up with the new age and new media, with the data-hungry marketers, how is all that culminating into something spectacular that teaches me something new.

What are some of the things you will look for while judging entries at Cannes?

Primarily freshness, when you are in the middle of some of the best creative minds in the world, and people put their best work forward, it is amazing. There are times that you look at a piece of work in isolation and it looks good, and you put it out amongst others and it fails to even stand out. So the first thing that anyone would look at is something that is really fresh, new, captures people’s imaginations, a story beautifully told, an execution wonderfully done, so very difficult to know what it is going to be... and that is what all the excitement is about of being there because suddenly you will say hey, wow, I have never seen this before or some part of the world that it comes from. I’m hoping to get surprised and get some really good fresh ideas.

What can be the takeaways for the Indian advertising industry from Cannes?

I think we are such a unique country; we should stop replicating things because we are so used to replicating as a country, we always say ‘Hey, why don’t we take that from there and put it out here’. I think we are a very interesting country with quite ingenious minds and we should probably create things of our own. Yes, pick up interesting things that people do, I think the professionalism with which its run, the precision of how the festival is organised, the kind of content that is put out, and finally the kind of work that wins, I think it’s a culmination of all of that. And if we were to pick few things out of them and do it our way, I’m sure we can have our own brilliant, home-grown festival. But I were to take one leaf out of that entire thing, I think it would be about the clockwork precision and the professionalism with which it is run.

How should we package our entries better?

It is getting packaged a lot better in the last two-three years whenever I have seen some work, I think we are packaging it a lot better. We need to start thinking of larger, bigger, ideas, and not look at shortcut scams which are done only for awards. Primarily I have seen great videos that come from India but sometimes when we sit and watch, we cringe that most of them are trying to sell India, the land of poor, India the land of turbans, India the land where farmers commit suicide, I think it’s balderdash. I don’t think any of these ads have done anything at all. I have seen ridiculous number of public service campaigns that are done which would have done nothing and I have never seen anything like that in India. While the videos are really good and most of the times the people come and say whether that has really happened, the conversation completely changes and I detest people who sell poverty and issues in this country to try and win an award. If we can really think of large ideas, convince marketers to go about it the right way, and give it the kind of exposure it deserves, I’m sure we will be able to package it really well because we are getting better at that. But I would concentrate on larger ideas being done the right way rather than just worrying about how superficially we can package.

What fun elements do you look forward to?

It used to be a lot more charming when we were younger and kids in advertising and we went ‘Oh my God, that guy, he’s Donald Gunn!’ Nonetheless, I have been going there for almost a decade now and every year is quite interesting, the kind of conversations that you have, the kind of people that you meet and I look forward to it. It is such a melting pot of interesting ideas and I love the promotions that happen, like Yahoo and Google who have really taken over the place and you always wonder what they are going to do; you tend to learn and use new technology. It’s a relaxing week of getting over-stimulated and there is a lot to think about once you come back.


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