Cannes Lions: How the shortlist jury members from India are gearing up

Creative heads talk about the excitement of having access to landmark works from across the globe and what would each of their judging process entail

e4m by Mansi Sharma
Published: May 27, 2022 8:21 AM  | 6 min read
Cannes Lions

Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity recently announced the list of its shortlist jury members – a line-up of eminent advertising experts from across the globe who will be shortlisting world-class creative work and benchmark excellence from thousands of entries that the festival has received from across the globe, this June.

The line-up consists of nine excellent industry insiders from India, who will be participating in the remote process soon. e4m recently interacted with a few of them to know their feelings on being part of the shortlist jury and how they are preparing to judge and benchmark the work.

Pravin Sutar, Head of Creative, Leo Burnett Orchard

A member of the shortlist jury for Outdoor Lions, Pravin Sutar is most excited about getting access as a shortlist jury member to the plethora of work from across the globe. “Some will make the shortlist. Many won't. But to just have the privilege to get into the minds of so many creative people, is something I really look forward to.”

In his process to judge the work, Sutar says, the merit of the idea will be the first benchmark he will be testing the work against. “Firstly, the merit of the idea - what is the conversation it is having. Once I'm convinced of the merit of the conversation, I'd be interested in its treatment. The craft. That's something which takes the idea to another level. The end product of the piece of communication should be something the world has never seen before - so it inspires the entire creative community.”

On being asked how he is preparing himself to access the global work, some of which might come from countries whose culture and socio-economic status he might not be fully aware of, Sutar replies, “Thanks to the internet, we have enough access to the broader cultural strokes of the globe. But discussions with my counterparts from other countries and tapping into insights over several chats is something I'll be focusing on over the weeks leading up to the evaluation. I also expect world-class case study videos. I believe well-written case studies set a certain backdrop for ideas to be evaluated in.”

Pallavi Chakravarti, Creative Head – West, DDB Mudra

Chakravarti is most excited about the category she would be assessing as part of the shortlist jury - the Radio and Audio Lions. “What most interests me about jury duty this year is the category I’ve been given. I haven’t judged Radio & Audio internationally before, so it promises to be different. Also, one’s eyes tend to glaze over after one is a few hundred case videos down – it’ll be interesting to go through work which needs you to actually close your eyes and listen. Am also keen to see if the category has moved beyond traditional radio spots and if so, how.”

Speaking about her judging process, Chakravarti says she tries to take her time to assess each piece of work and doesn’t judge too many entries at a stretch. “The same rules apply as other years – pace yourself. Don’t try and cover too many entries at a stretch. Revisit all the sub-categories when done, because I feel we tend to be a bit more lenient when we start out and tougher on the pieces once we’ve travelled down the list. The more you see, the more your frame of reference changes.”

On about how she will be looking at the work from countries she knows less about, Chakravarti points out, “Most spots are in English. And when they’re not, subtitles are always provided. That said, audio craft, sound design, music, voice textures, dialogue or narrative delivery - all these matter when judging this particular category, and one doesn’t really need an understanding of local culture or insights to assess these aspects. The only place where jurors may not be able to fairly evaluate a piece is if a spot in a language foreign to them has been entered for writing. Something is bound to get lost in translation then.”

Deepshikha Dharmaraj, Chief Executive Officer, BCW India Group

For Dharmaraj, it is like being a kid in a candy store, getting to witness the diversity of ideas and perspectives from across different cultures. “I am also struck at how deeply moving some of the campaigns are – when the insight is deep and has a creative idea to back it up – you have magic! In the last two years, our world has gone through a wringer and the creative world has risen up to challenge with campaigns that don’t just sell products and services, but also communicate with a purpose. Campaigns that talk about connecting in an isolated world, embracing diversity, healing from a period of trauma, addressing behaviour shifts in a world that has forever changed, moving people towards positive climate action, positive human engagement and delivering hope—this is the kind of exciting work which I am seeing.”

As a shortlist jury member for the PR Lions, Dharmaraj has a very intricate process to go through the work that she follows, “I have over 300 entries to go through. Each requires time for research, and some contemplation, which means, I can’t finish them unless I’m organized with my checklist and notes. In terms of parameters, I am looking at three things: first, there is a clear PR and communication objective & campaign. A lot of times the same entry is put in multiple categories and while the idea may be strong, it probably delivers better through advertising, film, print & publishing, mobile, event etc., without PR being well integrated into the heart of the campaign. Second, it is easy to get carried away by gimmicks and emotions but I am looking for real creativity in a campaign, which comes from addressing a deep human insight in the most creative way. I am also looking for purpose-led creativity—an idea that doesn’t just grab attention but also solves a problem and comes across as authentic for the brand. And finally, I am looking for impact. Not just coverage and eyeballs, but the real, measurable business impact that shows that the campaign has been able to clearly move the needle for the business and its stakeholders.”

In terms of her preparation for the process, Dharamraj shares, “Research, awareness, and an open-minded approach are critical for assessing award entries. Also, while it is a plus to know about the cultural and socio-economic nuances, at the end of the day, I’m looking at whether the idea is answering to insight and delivering the impact that it needs to.”

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