A decade of Cannes Creative Effectiveness Lions: A look back at India’s performance

The Indian contingent has won one Grand Prix and six Lions so far in the category

e4m by Mansi Sharma
Updated: Jun 4, 2021 9:07 AM
Cannes Lions

Probably the best honour to be bestowed upon a campaign for its measurable business impact, the Creative Effectiveness Lions at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity have been a part of the roster at the gala awards ceremony since 2011. The award has recognised and honoured creative attempts from across the globe that have led to an impressive spike in a brand’s business and in certain cases initiated a positive change within the society. Only the campaigns that have either been shortlisted or won an award the previous year are eligible to send in entries for this category. The Indian contingent too has won several nominations, picked six Lions and one Grand Prix for its commendable work in the sector and to mark the decadal year of the category, exchange4media takes a look back at the campaigns that brought the honours home. 

In the very inaugural year of the category BBDO, India picked a Lion for its W.A.L.S (Women Against Lazy Stubble), done for P&G’s Gillette. Speaking about the thought process behind the campaign after the win, then BBDO India Chairman & NCD Josy Paul had told us, “Our task was to encourage the young trendy men of India’s cities to shave more often, and to shed the prevailing “unshaven look” that was endorsed by virtually every sport star, actor and role model in India. Our strategy was to leverage the (until now, silent) views of their female partners and spouses.”  

The campaign, reportedly, was 60 per cent more effective in generating attention than previous Gillette campaigns and generated four times the expected amount of earned media and publicity, tripling the market share of Mach3.

In 2012, India had sent only two entries into the category, compared to the previous year’s seven, and Creativeland Asia’s “Plan-T” for Hippo Baked Munchies was shortlisted amongst the 13 final contenders out of the total 89 entries received globally. The campaign was sort of a pioneer in India to exclusively use Twitter to boost its distribution and get 20 million extra unit sales by indulging the users on the social media platform. It was also the agency’s maiden shortlist at Cannes Lions. 

The next shortlist came a year after, in 2014, for Lifebuoy’s “Help a Child Reach 5” campaign, created by Lowe+Partners. The aim of the campaign was to change the hand-washing behaviour of a billion people by the next year and save lives from several life-threatening diseases that take away kids under five years quite often in the country. Another interesting fact about the campaign is that it was entered by the London branch of the agency and not Indian as the latter, as a policy, did not send entries to any awards. 

In 2015, HUL’s Kan Khajura Tesan, India’s first free and on-demand entertainment mobile radio channel picked a Bronze Lion in the category. Launched in October 2013 in Bihar and Jharkhand, the service was expanded in August 2014 across Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra. It aimed to help HUL brands engage with rural consumers in media dark areas. The previous year, the campaign had won three Gold Lions in separate categories. The campaign was submitted by Lowe + Partners Worldwide. 

The next Bronze Lion was picked by BBDO Mumbai, in 2016, for one of its longest-running and highly acclaimed campaigns for Ariel called “Share the Load.” The ads encouraged men to “share the load” when doing laundry, with messaging extending to non-traditional channels such as wash care labels on clothes. Ariel grew value and volume sales by 106%, as per a detailed WARC report. 

2017 has been thus far the best year for the Indian contingent at Cannes Lions for it won a total of four lions in the effectiveness category that year. Ariel’s “Share the Load” by BBDO India went on to pick a Gold Lion for Creative Longer-Term Effectiveness and Bajaj V’s “The Nation’s Bike” by Leo Burnett India won another Gold Lion for Creative Marketing Effectiveness. 

Ariel Matic’s “Dads #SharetheLoad” by BBDO India and Make Love Not Scars’ “Beauty Tips by Reshma”created by Ogilvy and Mather Mumbai, won Silver Lions in Creative

Effectiveness and Creative Effectiveness For Good sections. 

The following year too turned out to be great as Savlon with its “Healthy Hands Chalk Sticks” campaign, created by Ogilvy Mumbai picked won the Grand Prix in the category. The brand had developed special chalk-sticks, infused with soap particles so that when the kids washed their hands after using the product it helped them clean better and fight off germs. The chalk sticks were given to 150,000 students in more than 100 schools across 22 cities by the time the win came for them. 

Speaking about the win, Kainaz Karmakar and Harshad Rajadhyaksha, then Chief Creative Officers, Ogilvy India had told exchange4media that the campaign was very well-received across Cannes and the juries and the fact that the Grand Prix happened on the same evening as when Piyush and Prasoon Pandey were felicitated meant a lot.







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