Video: Shekhar Kapur & R Balki on diversity & its role in creativity

Film director and producer Shekhar Kapur and R Balki, film maker and Chairman of Lowe Lintas speak to exchange4media as they gear for their session @Cannes Lions

Video: Shekhar Kapur & R Balki on diversity & its role in creativity

Cannes Lions could not have asked for a better duo than Shekhar Kapur and R Balki to talk about creativity and advertising in India. After all, both Kapur and Balki are known to challenge norms in their respective fields of creativity.

Oscar-nominated director, producer, actor and new media entrepreneur Shekhar Kapur very recently was a subject of conversation in the ad industry for his tweet on the social impact that advertising had and the fact that advertising agencies were not doing justice to the role they played.

R Balki, film maker and Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of Lowe Lintas, on the other hand, is known to abstain from any advertising award there is because he is yet to come across a platform that is transparent enough and leads to fostering creativity in the industry.

In perhaps a first-ever session on the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity stage that will delve on India and the considerable influence that the country has on global creativity, Kapur and Balki will talk about what stands out about Indian creativity. As the duo prepare for their session, they take some time out to speak to exchange4media on some of the thoughts that can be expected from them in their session on June 19. Excerpts

Let’s begin with some of the things that you want to talk about in your session tomorrow?
Shekhar Kapur:
One of the things that we want to talk about is that as a global village, we often forget that diversity is the very advent of globalisation. There is no one answer for everybody or one creative idea. Even the future of social media lies in the idea of cultural fragmentation. The world is heading to a state of culturally diverse and yet unified. And we need to understand this culture diversity. So what we will talk about is why and how are we culturally diverse. Why one solution doesn’t fit all. Therefore, one must see how we adapt the same idea to cultures that have different forms of storytelling.

Contrary to what most people think, India is the most adaptable country in the world – it jumps. It jumped from no phones to cell phones; on the internet, it jumped from no PCs to internet on mobile. It is starting at a lower ground technology level, and so people are fresh to new ideas – they don’t have investment in old technological ideas. The new ideas and the adaptability to change is enormous and in that, some of the best ideas in this new world are going to come from India and India is going to become a showcase to the world on how do you experiment with new ideas in the world of new technology, especially in the world of mobile and social media.

Your comment on this, Balki...
R Balki: As Shekhar said, our conversation tomorrow is about how diversity is really interesting in the field of communication. How we sometimes lose the interest value of certain cultures by having an idea that fits all. We also question why communication should travel – people are meant to travel. Why tom-tom about ‘communication that travels’? I would much rather tailor my conversation to the person or group of people I am talking to. If I try to talk to everyone at once, chances are that for some TG, and it may be for the most relevant TG, that my conversation loses interest. It is very important to preserve diversity. There is too much of similarity and diversity is what will create interest.

Would it surprise either of you that India, despite being one of the most fastest growing mobile markets, did not have a single shortlist in the Mobile Lions awards announced today?
R Balki:
No, it won’t. Though social media, the number of applications on the mobile and things we can do are still far lower. There is so much more that we can do. For us if we can just access our social media, it is good enough. So a lot of advertisers are still not experimenting with mobile media. It is purely a case of technology than creativity. You will find a difference next year because people would be more prepared.

Shekhar Kapur: Also, we have been caught by surprise. I have a social media company in which the investors are one of the largest technology companies in the world. And till about nine months ago, they said, what do you mean smartphone – India will not be able to afford smartphone. It is the pace of change in India and the fall in costs of technology that has caught everyone by surprise and unfortunately advertising decisions take a long time. But if you notice, companies such as WPP have gone ahead and bought a mobile company in India. The fact is that everyone is waking up to it. It is not because India is not waking up to it. It is because the creative heads in companies were unaware of that pace of change.

How does Cannes Lions help the creative industry?
R Balki: I don’t think it affects the Indian creative industry as much as people think it does. A lot of what is shown over here has got nothing to do with what is really happening in the Indian advertising industry – a lot has been tailored for this platform, so it is not a reflection of the diversity of things that are happening in India. The day that truly happens and the Festival is truly able to capture the fascinating thing happening in the country and for the country, is when I would say India has arrived at Cannes. Right now, it is more like Cannes has arrived in India.

Shekhar Kapur: In India, we have always aspired to be known internationally. If it is then showcased in a Festival like this, then it is fantastic. That desire is very innate, natural and preferred because it pushes us to go out, compete and show the world that we can do it better. The fact that India is going out and making a statement is a new thing and it is a good thing. The rise of consumerism in India caught everyone off-guard again. If someone would have asked any of us five years ago that was it it possible that the second or the third largest sports franchise in the world would come from India, we would have said No. But then came the Indian Premier League.

There are some inherent things happening in India that surprise the world. We are struggling to catch up with ourselves in India because the market is changing so rapidly. Some of the owners of ad companies are saying that India is where were want to be, India is where we want to buy and the reason why they want to buy is because they don’t have the essential creative ideas that can only come from the creatives that live in India. In a few years, you may find that Cannes would become pretty dominated by a lot of work coming from India, and a lot of it would specifically be a showcase of the country’s culture.

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Noorings: And there is good even from a bad year...

Undoubtedly, Cannes Lions has become the Oscars of advertising and India has done its worst since 2007...But as they say, it can only get better from here...

Noorings: And there is good even from a bad year...

If you thought that creative gurus mean it when they say winning at Cannes Lions is difficult and it is more important to win than judge the amount that is won, then you couldn’t be farther from the truth. Advertising business is extremely competitive top down and across all markets. Professionals in this business truly live cut-throat. So thoughts as noble as ‘it is ok to do the good work and celebrate what we win than cry over what we did not’ don’t really exist in the minds of creative doyens. They are at Cannes to make a statement that they can do it, and they are not very happy when they don’t.

On the last day of the Festival, a journalist friend from Brazil said to me, and I quote: India is so much bigger than Brazil but we have won 80 Lions this year. My response: I know that!

I indeed do; India, and the advertising business in India, is so much bigger than Brazil. India Adlanders have the wonderful nature of surprising journalists such as me every single time. Let me also tell you some journalists are more pure – they don’t care about such things: how does it matter to them. But unfortunately, this particular puritan nature is not for me and hence I very much care.

Does India’s performance, which is the worst since 2007, disappoint me? Yes. I wish we had a lot more to write than just saying India draws a blank, or no show from India or India makes no impact and other such creative ways of putting no score in a category. I would have loved to hear and quote international jury members say that so and so work from India was a real winner. I would have loved the pressure of reporting on 80 or 100 shortlists in crazy time, since the who-reported-first clause of a journalist’s life applies at Cannes as well.

Cannes Lions Festival Chairman Terry Savage put it very kindly, when he said India is not having a great year. Most others have said India has slipped bad at Cannes Lions.

While there may be some merit in that argument, here are some other facts that highlight where India stands at Cannes Lions:
1. 2012 was the first year when an entire session was dedicated to India. And one of the two speakers was R Balki, a non-believer in the current system of awards. He was speaking to a packed house.
2. Josy Paul was one of the most appreciated speakers at Cannes Lions 2012 – he was congratulated in the Palais and outside for the rest of the Festival week.
3. ‘I am Mumbai’ was amongst the most spoken about film for the last two days of the Festival after it was shown during the BBDO session.
4. Agnello Dias was the second Indian creative head to be in coveted Cannes Lions Titanium & Integrated Jury.
5. India won three Gold Lions – Outdoor, Design and Film Craft

The Gutter Bar (72 Croisette) conversations were about a poor show from India but a lot of it was around the learnings of this year, jury members goading creative heads that they should have entered some of the work that did well at Abby awards and suggestions and advice on what should be followed for next year.

It was a bad year for India on the awards front, but it made most of our creative heads come together and talk about what went wrong. It was a year of new learning and facing tougher competition. It was the year when India as a market was discussed for its yet untapped potential and possibilities. It was the year from where things are only bound to get better…

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Celebrating ‘Grand Prix’ winners of Cannes Lions 2012

After giving you detailed analysis on India winner at Cannes, we list down the world’s best. Take a look at the Grand Prix winners of Cannes Lions 2012 across 15 categories

Celebrating ‘Grand Prix’ winners of Cannes Lions 2012

Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives - choice, not chance, determines your destiny – Aristototle

They are the best of the best. They are indeed a result of high intention, sincere effort and intelligent execution. They are the Grand Prix winners at world’s most coveted advertising festival – The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

Here’s a preview to the crème-de-la-crème of a total of 34,301 entries from 87 countries that entered Cannes Lions 2012 in 15 different categories:

Titanium Grand Prix

Campaign: Nike+ Fuelband
Advertiser: Nike
Product: Nike+ Fuel Band
Agency: R/GA New York, USA

Run, skate, climb stairs, dance – everything you do in your day counts. And that formed the basis of Nike+ Fuelband campaign introducing Nike Fuel to the world – the Titanium Grand Prix winner this year. Nike Fuel Band is a device that tracks everything you do in a day and calculates your fuel, calories, steps and time and compare it with anyone in the world. The integrated campaign that interlaces mobile, web platform and social networks allows product users to compare their results with their friends and peers and keep a track of their daily performance.

Cyber Lions Grand Prix

Campaign: Curators of Sweden
Advertiser: Swedish Institute
Product: Sweden
Agency: Volontaire Stockholm, Sweden

Cyber Lions Grand Prix

Campaign: Nike+ Fuelband

Branded Content and Entertainment Grand Prix
Film Lions Grand Prix

Campaign: Cultivate Campaign (Branded Content & Entertainment Lion Winner)
Title: Back to the Start (Film Lions Winner)
Advertiser: Chipotle
Product: Fast Food
Agency: Creative Artists Agency, USA

The Cultivate campaign by Creative Artists Agency tells Chipotle’s story and asks consumers to care about their food. The objective – if consumers know that Chipotle is a business doing good for people, they will become more loyal and passionate about the brand.

Creative Effectiveness Lions Grand Prix

Campaign: Axe Excite – Returning to Universal Truths to Create Global Hits
Advertiser: Unilever
Product: Axe
Agency: BBH London, UK

BBH London walked away with the Creative Effectiveness Grand Prix for The New Axe Lynx Excite – Even Angels Will Fall campaign.

Design Lions Grand Prix

Campaign: The Solar Annual Report 2011
Advertiser: Austria Solar
Product: Solar Energy Provider
Agency: Serviceplan Munich, Germany

A report that can be read only under sunlight!

Direct Lions Grand Prix
Promo & Activation Lion Grand Prix

Campaign: Small Business Gets an Official Day
Advertiser: American Express
Product: American Express
Agency: Crispin Porter + Bogusky Boulder, USA

A campaign that enrolled even the President of United States! US Senate declared Small Business Saturday as an official day.

Film Craft Lions Grand Prix

Campaign: Bear
Advertiser: Canal+
Product: Canal+
Agency: BETC Paris, France

This commercial can become your favourite film. A bearskin explains what it takes to become a famous Hollywood Director.

Media Lion Grand Prix

Campaign: Google Voice Search
Advertiser: Google
Product: Google Voice Search
Agency: Manning Gottlieb OMD London

OMD London covered prominent outdoor locations in UK, with creative execution relevant to the poster site. If you are standing outside any stadium in UK, the outdoor banner over there would have written ‘ley-tist-skohrz’. Puzzled? Use Google Voice Search.

Mobile Lion Grand Prix

Campaign: Hill Top Re-imagined for Coca-Cola
Advertiser: Google
Product: Display Advertising
Agency: Grow Interactive Norfolk, USA

The Hill Top Re-imagined for Coca-Cola campaign uses Coca Cola’s 40 year old classic ‘Hilltop’ commercial to connect with the audience in the modern world, allowing them to connect with strangers around the globe by sending a free coke. The ad can be experienced on Google’s AdMob network, enabling users to deliver a coke by just a tap on their phone.

Outdoor Lions Grand Prix

Campaign: The Invisible Drive
Advertiser: Daimler
Product: Mercedes Benz B-Class F-Cell
Agency: Jung Von Matt Hamburg, Germany

The campaign showcases an ‘Invisible Car’ to promote the new hydrogen powered Mercedes Benz B-Class F-Cell which is invisible to the environment.

Outdoor Lions Grand Prix

Campaign: Cokehands
Advertiser: The Coca Cola Company
Product: Coca Cola
Agency: Ogilvy Shanghai, China

Pr Lions Grand Prix

Campaign: The Most Popular song
Advertiser: Banco Popular De Puerto Rico
Product: Banco Popular De Puerto Rico
Agency: JWT San Juan, Puerto Rico

What happens when the country’s most popular band rewrites a song with a new message as a part of a campaign? The most Popular Song gets written....

Press Lions Grand Prix

Campaign: UNHATE campaign
Advertiser: United Colors of Benetton
Product: Apparel
Agency: FABRICA Treviso, Italy

A campaign that the whole world took a notice of...

Radio Lion Grand Prix

Campaign: Repellent Radio
Advertiser: Go Outside Magazine
Product: Go Outside Magazine
Agency: Talent Sao Paulo, Brazil

The campaign turned radio into a mosquito repellent radio


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The India Cannes Scoreboard 2012

Grabbing 14 metals in total, take a look at how Indian agencies performed at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this year.

The India Cannes Scoreboard 2012

Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity concluded on June 23, 2012 after a week of celebration of creative prowess from around the world.

Amongst Indian agencies, going by the point system that Cannes Lions follows, DDB Mudra is on the top this year with 1 Gold, 1 Bronze Lion and 10 shortlists totalling 20 points. Following closely is Leo Burnett India with 19 points from 2 Silver, 1 Bronze Lions and 6 shortlists. Ogilvy & Mather comes next with 12 points courtesy three Bronze Lions and three shortlists.

McCann Worldgroup and BBDO India have a total of 10 points each with a Gold and three shortlists and two bronze and four shortlists respectively. Other metal winners include Cheil Worldwide India, Ramesh Deo Productions with Taproot India and Bacardi India. Out of a total of 23 agencies/companies whose work got nominated, only eight could finally grab metals.


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Guest Column: From 30 seconds to two & a half mins

Following Cannes 2012 closely, Alok Agrawal, COO, Cheil Worldwide India shares what India needs to do to win big at the coveted advertising Festival

Guest Column: From 30 seconds to two & a half mins

I have been following Cannes 2012 with a keen eye. We had a strong entry, which finally won a silver apart from three shortlists. And the Cheil Network rocked with a total tally of 13 Lions. But that’s not what this article is about. What this is about is the fact that team India did not do well. We had over 1100 entries in all and just a handful of metal to show. And the reason is stark and staring at the Indian ad industry in the face. We are way too traditional in our thinking. Almost all the Indian entries were in print medium or film. Most of them were seen for the first time at the judging.

There is enough talk about how social media is the new mantra. How it is important to be integrated. But I do see a little more in what's happening than a simple shift of medium.

Most of the winning and inspiring work this year was a two and a half minute case film. Not a thirty-second TVC. And what the case film did was not just present the idea but present the results. That's the shift. It's not about the idea or creativity anymore. It's about how effective the idea has been. Cannes is no longer just a festival of creativity. It is a festival of creative effectiveness.

That’s hard to grasp. Which means Cannes is no longer the bastion of creative minds. It's more about minds that can move people. The American Express idea got the President of USA tweeting. How cool is that! Ideas at Cannes are no longer just watched and admired…They are moving people, changing lives. The boundaries between communication, action and product have fallen. I mean is Nike Plus an advertising idea or an innovative new product?

Going into the next few years, Indian ad networks have to fundamentally change the way they look at their business and how they approach Cannes. Cannes is a mirror and what it has shown us this year is that we are way too backward in our approach and we have the wrong mix of people leading the charge.

Here are my observations on what we need to do to win again, even rule Cannes. First and foremost, stop thinking print. Fancy art and Photoshop jobs aren’t going to win it anymore and we all know they are just fake. Think what will move people. Every idea has to be integrated. But integrated does not mean we have to do a lot of things. It just means think cross media. Social is important. But a lot of winning work was OOH, the oldest advertising medium. It's OOH combined with technology and activation. At the heart of these ideas is a simple belief. How do we move people into action? Look at the EMart idea – Simple, Exciting, Brilliant.

The second is to shift thinking from what will inspire judges to what will inspire and move people. Include people. That’s what social media is all about. Social media is not broadcast. People forget that and do Facebook blasts. Social media is simply what people embrace and promote. You can't do that with money.

Thirdly, a great idea is one which takes traditional thinking to newer media. It is really about disruption. Invent a new media and you are bound to win. Isn't that what all the new-age Internet companies are all about?

Finally results…It's not the idea but the results that make a difference. It is the case study, not just a presentation. The better the results, the higher the chances for winning! This alone fundamentally means that the people behind the ideas are ones who like to measure themselves by results and not by their personal brilliance. And this is where I think team India needs to make a real shift.

As far as I am concerned, I am going back to school again. Wipe out all I have ever learnt and think ideas that move people!

The author is Chief Operating Officer, Cheil Worldwide India

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Mindshare and Google launch Mobile Garage

The venture is designed to use Google’s best in class mobile expertise to supercharge the use of mobile by Mindshare’s global client base

Mindshare and Google launch Mobile Garage

Mindshare and Google have announced the launch of ‘Mobile Garage’, a venture designed to use Google’s best in class mobile expertise to supercharge the use of mobile by Mindshare’s global client base.

Mobile Garage will see the setting up of mobile hubs around the globe – initially New York, London and Singapore – where Mindshare clients will gain access via dedicated teams to mobile strategists and product experts. The hubs will consist of a mix of Mindshare and Google employees and will work across all aspects of the mobile eco-system, from search optimisation and app development, to strategy, planning and creative optimisation.

Mobile Garage will give Mindshare clients a unique advantage in the race to harness the growing global trend of mobile device usage. Mobile search traffic has increased 400 per cent over the past two years, and its potential goes even further. The GSMA, the industry body for mobile operators, and research company Machina, predicts there will be 24 billion connected devices by 2020 creating an industry worth $4.5 trillion and covering innovations such as connected cars, building automation and traffic management. In addition, the venture will also give Mindshare clients competitive advantage in emerging markets, with KPCB’s Mary Meeker recently showing that mobile Internet usage had surpassed desktop Internet usage in India.

Nick Emery, CEO, Mindshare Worldwide, said, “We designed Mindshare to be open source and to work with the best partners for the benefit of our clients. It’s about trial, experimentation and speed to re-design our business. Working with Google on mobile will give our clients a competitive advantage in a key battleground both now and for the future.”

Matt Brittin, VP, Sales and Operations, Northern and Central Europe, Google, added here, “We have adopted a ‘mobile first’ philosophy at Google to keep pace with the rapid acceleration in consumer mobile usage. We are delighted to team up with Mindshare on a similar strategy for their clients. Mindshare have already shown strong momentum in the mobile marketing space, and have a great opportunity to lead their clients to win on mobile in the future.”

Mobile Garage will complement Mindshare’s existing relationship with WPP’s mobile agencies – Joule and H-Art.

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O&M wins Network of The Year at Cannes Lions 2012

The agency has broken breaks previous record with 83 Lions, including one Grand Prix and 12 Golds

O&M wins Network of The Year at Cannes Lions 2012

Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide has been named Network of the Year at the 59th Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Cannes Lions 2012 saw Ogilvy & Mather have its best ever year. It has been presented with the Network of the Year award, and has won 83 Lions across all categories, including one Grand Prix, 12 Golds, 20 Silvers and 50 Bronzes. The network has also achieved a record 305 finalists during the festival.

Tham Khai Meng, Worldwide Chief Creative Officer at Ogilvy & Mather and Film & Press Jury President at Cannes 2012, said, “We are delighted to be crowned Network of the Year in Cannes 2012 on top of winning a Grand Prix and 83 Lions. The awards are a reflection of our strong creative and management teams, our client relationships, and our agency culture that places its emphasis on creativity. It’s great to be recognised by our peers.”

Ogilvy & Mather China was crowned with a Grand Prix in the Outdoor category for its ‘#CokeHands campaign’.

Across the Network 12 Golds were awarded – across all categories – for the following campaigns:

3x Gold for ‘The Return of Dictator Ben Ali’, Ogilvy & Mather Tunisia (2x Promo & Activation; and Branded Content & Entertainment)

1x Gold for its ‘Sprite Shower,’ Ogilvy & Mather Brasil - Sao Paulo ( Promo & Activation)

1 x Gold for its Carling Black Label ‘Be The Coach,’ Ogilvy Cape Town (Branded Content & Entertainment)

1x Gold for its Claro TV ‘Half of HBO for free,’ Ogilvy & Mather Guatemala (Direct)

1 x Gold for its Claro ‘A’ ‘T’ ‘S’ ‘I’ campaign, Ogilvy & Mather Brasil (Press)

1x Gold for its IBM ‘THINK’ campaign, Ogilvy & Mather NY (Design)

1x Gold for its Hellman’s ‘Recipe Receipt’ campaign, Ogilvy & Matcher Brasil (Promo & Activation)

1x Gold for its ‘Coke Hands’ campaign, Ogilvy & Mather, China (Outdoor)

1x Gold for its Forbes ‘Donald Trump’ campaign, Ogilvy & Mather Brazil (Outdoor)

1x Gold for its Coca-Cola ‘ Share a Coke’ campaign, Ogilvy & Mather Sydney (Outdoor)

Ogilvy & Mather had won 61 awards at Cannes last year, which comprised 12 Golds, 17 Silvers, and 32 Bronzes.

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Cannes Lions: Key takeaways

A quick summary of what stood out in conversations, on-stage and off-stage at the Festival this year

Cannes Lions: Key takeaways

Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity manages to get all stakeholders of the international communication, marketing and advertising industry under the same roof. Result: intriguing thoughts exchanged on what is defining successful work for marketers today and what are some of the trends that will shape the communication of tomorrow.

For those who attended the Festival but not all aspects of it, and for those who were unable to attend the Festival at all, here is a quick recap of some of the key takeaways from the festival this year.

Marketers are interested in communicating to the industry, and to each other
Cannes Lions has attracted marketers such as Unilever and P&G every year. This year was no different but it was very clear that marketers are leading conversations at Cannes. Companies such as Nike, Coca-Cola, General Motors, amongst many others set the tone of discussions on the back of the kind of work that they have done over the years to keep their brand relevant in a consumer’s life.

Media marketers are finally paying attention to their own communication
One of the strongest trends that emerged at the Festival this year was media companies as marketers. Work from The Guardian and Canal+ was competing for the Grand Prix in various categories and even won in most. From India, The Times of India Group has perhaps seen a precedent in this given that the only Grand Prix India has won so far came from the Group. Media marketers were seen as the strongest categories for most Lions.

Marketing magic needs to be unlocked – consumers still believe in it
Marketing, when done well, creates brands for life. The thought had come across quite simply in the Unilever address but was heard all week-long in most other conversations. Despite all conversations of reducing attention spans and the sceptical consumer, all facts pointed to the simple truth that a consumer can be the brand’s biggest ambassador if the brand can play a role in his life. Nike+ leverages this one truth. Brands from companies such as Unilever, P&G, Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo that have been long lasting is also because of this one fact. However small it was, the brand was able to communicate to the consumer that it played a role in his or her life.

Advertising’s role for the good
The winning work from Chipotle connected back to the talk from Bill Clinton, where he urged advertisers to understand the role they play in communicating to people at large. Chipotle was talking about going back to the start and making a company statement of addressing issues of factory farming. For most members of the jury, it was the commitment and the manner of communicating this to the consumers that had much to teach to all marketers. Unilever’s sustainability promise is another example on the same lines.

The mantra has not changed – listen to the consumer, engage in conversation and innovate while at it
It is very easy for a delegate to feel, ‘Did I not hear this three years ago’. And they are not very wrong in thinking so as well. The same mantra continues albeit the application has become more competitive than ever. Innovation is an easily used word but whether the activity that appeared innovative really resonated with the consumer or not, would be known through very tangible metrics, including impact on the brand’s sales.

Idea and technology can be a potent combination as long as the order does not change
An idea can manifest into anything from a film to a wrist band to a concert but unless the final product, whichever form it takes, is not backed by a great idea, it would have no meaning for the consumer for more than a day. Technology is sexy but the problem with that is that it does not give it longevity. That can come only from an idea based on insight and knowing your consumer a little better than the consumers themselves and definitely a lot better than your competition.

Yes, a client can be an agency’s friend
They are ruthless and sometimes alleged to come in the way of creativity but the client is the closest relation an agency has. People such as Jeff Goodby and GM’s Joel Ewanick proved that like any other relationship, once trust was earned and a status of equality and respect was given to all involved, a client could be the agency’s best friend and together they could form a formidable team that would give the advertising business work that defines the business per se.

Content, content, content...
Will and always will be the king. Technology can be facilitator of content to the right target group and give it scale but if the content was not world-class, not many would stay around for long.

Holding Companies are competitive about awards
Agencies may be at each other’s throat when it comes to winning businesses or awards but the mother competition of it all came from the top. 2012 proved again that the highest honour matters to Holding Company CEOs and they may not be as reasonable about it as operating units.

The Media Lions row
Media Abby may be the most non-controversial and well executed category at GoaFest in India but it has proved to be interesting at Cannes Lions. For the longest time, there was debate whether it was fair for creative agencies to be winning Media Lions. And this year, WPP launched a complaint, an official one according to the agency, for unethical judging process. WPP officials say judging was influenced but a few others argue how could it be given the category had six WPP judges and six from Omnicom.

Have a few of your own to add to this or just want to comment on some of these takeaways? Write to

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What led to India’s lowest Cannes score in 5 yrs?

Is India pushing boundaries to create world-class work...

What led to India’s lowest Cannes score in 5 yrs?

After seven days of shortlists, winners, seminars, workshops, ceremonies, discussions and parties, The 59th International festival of Creativity, Cannes Lions finally came to an end on June 23, 2012. India could grab only two Lions across four categories that were announced on the last day of the Festival including Film, Film Craft, Titanium and Integrated and the newly launched Branded Content and Entertainment.

Performance by agencies
Going by the point system that Cannes Lions follows, DDB Mudra is on the top this year with 1 Gold, 1 Bronze Lion and 10 shortlists totalling 20 points. Following closely is Leo Burnett India with 19 points from 2 Silver, 1 Bronze Lions and 6 shortlists. Ogilvy & Mather comes next with 12 points courtesy three Bronze Lions and three shortlists. McCann Worldgroup and BBDO India have a total of 10 points each with a Gold and three shortlists and two bronze and four shortlists respectively. Other metal winners include Cheil Worldwide India, Ramesh Deo Productions with Taproot India and Bacardi India. Out of a total of 23 agencies/companies whose work got nominated, only nine could finally grab metals.

Performance by categories
Out of a total of 1182 entries submitted from India, a total of 91 entries got shortlisted in various categories including the coveted Titanium and Integrated Lions and the inaugural Branded Content and Entertainment Lions. Out of the 91 shortlisted, 14 converted into metals across eight categories, marking a ‘No show’ across seven. There are three Gold, three Silver and eight Bronze Lions won over all. These 14 metals comprise of four metals in Press including one silver and three bronze; three in Media including two silver and one bronze; two in Design including one Gold and one bronze; a Gold in Film Craft and Outdoor and a bronze each in Direct, Branded Content and Entertainment and Radio.

India did not win any metal in Promo and Activation, PR, Mobile, Creative Effectiveness, Cyber, Film and Titanium and Integrated Lions.

India had got 12 metals in 2007 and then 23 Lions in 2008 including a Grand Prix. The performance was maintained in 2009 with 25 Lions but in 2010 the number of Lions came down to 17. In 2011, Indian agencies though had started slow, demonstrated another good year and cornered 24 Lions.

Industry speaks

The numbers haven’t bothered the creative leadership in India. We spoke to Piyush Pandey, Executive Chairman and Creative Director, Ogilvy & Mather; Prasoon Joshi, Executive Chairman and CEO McCann Worldgroup India and President – South Asia; and Josy Paul, Chairman and National Creative Director, BBDO India on India’s performance at Cannes Lions 2012. Here is what they had to say...

Numbers go up and down and I am not thinking too much about it. Yes, we could have done better but we should worry more about doing work that wins audience and not only awards. That should not be the criteria. I think very simple and effective work also wins at Cannes and we have to just get down and do that. We have support of our audience in India unlike some countries where people are very sceptical of advertising; we should continue creating work that mesmerises them. ”

I am happy for McCann’s Gold win. It is work for a significant client and work that has pushed boundaries in a category such as Outdoor. I am more concerned about the quality of work, efforts we are making for mainstream clients rather than the numbers. If I look at it that ways, then I am happy that the real work is being noticed. Another thing is that we are still traditional media dominated country, which has apparently declined elsewhere. Activations, digital, events are becoming mainstream and we still have sometime before we represent ourselves strongly in these medias.

Also, we have to look at the needs of the clients in our country. We are doing campaigns for them and not because we have to win at Cannes. I want India to have great performance at Cannes but wont judge industries health on basis of that. If our clients are doing well, we should not create unnecessary panic. We should learn from it. We should educate ourselves on where the world of advertising is going and learn from it. But there are certain realities of our country which will not change and we should thus not worry too much about it.

However, I am definitely concerned with our performance in films. We need to question creativity in our films. We should introspect on the nuances. We have to ask if we are pushing boundaries to produce world-class work.

India's showing in Digital continues to bother me. I'm trying to understand why we are so far behind. But I think we should look at the positive side. We know we have some fantastic talent in India. And our best work is among the best in the world. So we should focus on being more of who we are. Festivals such as Cannes allow us to exchange art and culture, and in time, we will understand more of the world, the world will understand us. I am confident this will lead to better performance. I am optimistic. Looking at the winning entries this year, I notice that this year Cannes was more about big emotions and less about clever ideas – clever ideas talk to a few, while big emotions talk to everyone. So everyone in the diverse Jury gets it. In fact I always thought 'I am Mumbai’ had the best chance for India as a film and it did win. That was because of that one big human emotion, wasn't it?

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WPP retains Holding Company of the Year @Cannes

Despite WPP’s concern over Media Lions, the Holding Company has retained the title that has become important for advertising business’ top bosses

WPP retains Holding Company of the Year @Cannes

Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity introduced the Holding Company of the Year award in 2011 and it immediately caught attention of all Holding Company CEOs – for some it is a must to win this award and for some it is important to win the award.

In its inaugural year, the award had gone to WPP implying that WPP agencies had won the maximum awards across categories at the Festival. Record haul of awards for its agencies in 2012 again sees WPP named Cannes Lions Holding Company of the Year.

The Media Lions controversy at the Festival, where WPP questioned the judging process of the category was also connected back to the impact the Media Lions Grand Prix to an Omnicom agency, OMD, would have on the Holding Company of the Year. Even as WPP officials insisted that an official complaint was made in context to Media Lions, Festival Chairman Terry Savage informed no complaint was made to the Festival and that in the “white heat of the Festival, Cannes Lions would not make any ad hoc statements on any category”. Savage told exchange4media, “We always go back and go through the judging process of every category and we would do the same this year as well but not in the Festival week.”

The Holding Company of the Year award is based on the total number of Cannes Lions won by holding companies’ agencies. WPP notched up 1554.5 points in the competition, followed by Omnicom with 1375.5 and Publicis Groupe with 1032.

This latest success follows the announcement earlier in the week that WPP is acquiring AKQA, the world’s leading independent digital agency, and the news that the Effie Index has rated WPP the most effective advertising holding company of 2012.

Accepting the Cannes award on behalf of the group, WPP Chief Executive Sir Martin Sorrell and WPP Worldwide Creative Director John O’Keeffe said, “It’s wonderful to retain the Holding Company of the Year award, particularly when we see the calibre of work delivered across categories from so many brilliant creative agencies the world over. Long may we push one another to greater and greater heights. We congratulate all our clients and colleagues, and indeed all this year’s winners, irrespective of company.”

Cannes Lions were won by agencies across the group, across marketing disciplines and across regions. They included, amongst many others: Black River FC, Blast Radius, CHI & Partners, Grey, JWT, Johannes Leonardo, Kinetic, Landor, MediaCom, MetropolitanRepublic, Mindshare, Ogilvy, Scholz & Friends, The Partners, Vice, VML and Y&R.

WPP agencies from 50 countries across every continent received awards. Notable wins included, amongst others, network of the year for Ogilvy, a PR Grand Prix for JWT Puerto Rico, an Outdoor Grand Prix for Ogilvy Shanghai and a Mobile Grand Prix for Johannes Leonardo (with Grow).

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15 minutes on Cannes stage, a lifetime of learning: Josy Paul

The Chairman & NCD of BBDO India writes on his experience of being a speaker at Cannes Lions and the Festival’s ‘human’ side

by Josy Paul
Published - 25-June-2012
15 minutes on Cannes stage, a lifetime of learning: Josy Paul

We won two metals and eight shortlists at Cannes this year. But my personal big moment was being a speaker at Cannes Lions alongside the legendary creative leaders of BBDO and advertising's most celebrated heroes.

As an agency, we had decided that we would not focus on ourselves but shine the light on someone else’s work.

I chose Mumbai Mirror’s ‘I am Mumbai’ after studying all the ad films from India. I felt that it would resonate with the diverse audience at Cannes Lions because it was based on a big universal human emotion.

On stage on June 21, I spent my 15 minutes de-constructing Mumbai city through the lens of the film. Layer by layer, I peeled the two-minute spot to show the world the hidden social and cultural nuances that make the film great. I went into emotional detail about the craft - explaining every frame, the raw gritty magic of the non-actors, the invisible cameras and the brooding music with its plaintive cry blending into the sound of the local train – the rhythm of Mumbai. Craft is as much about the activist as it is about the artist.

The session proved to be more touching than I imagined. After my presentation, I had so many people come up to me and thank me for sharing the work and giving them a deeper understanding of the film and the cultural codes of the city. They were hugging me, inviting me to their homes, to their countries, introducing me to their friends, buying me drinks, and wanting to visit us in Mumbai.

Everyone were saying such beautiful things, it was most moving.

I did not deserve this adulation as I was only a carrier and a mother to someone else's baby. The work was done by TapRoot and RDP Productions. Yet something happened that I'd never experienced before. People of almost every nationality came forward to hug me. The road from the Gutter Bar to my hotel was full of well wishers and cheering delegates. I felt like a surrogate superstar. It dawned on me that in the eyes of the world, the guy who shares and gives meaning to the work is as equal as the guy who creates the work.

Two days later, on June 23, the film won a Gold in Best Direction and I was glad that the actual creators of the film went up on stage to collect the award. The applause was deafening.

I realised that Cannes is more than an award show. It's a platform for us to express who we are and exchange our humanity. I have been to Cannes several times before. I have walked along the Croisette in the past holding our Gold Lions triumphantly. But I have never received so much love and attention as when I have shared another's work.

David Lubars and the large hearted people at BBDO opened my eyes and heart to the purer and human side of Cannes. It makes me proud to be with BBDO.

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