Cannes Lions: Key takeaways

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

e4m by Noor Fathima Warsia
Published: Jun 25, 2012 9:06 PM  | 5 min read
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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Cannes Lions 2023: Inside MullenLowe Lintas Group's entries this year

The Group has sent four of its best campaigns centred on themes of inclusivity, diversity and equality.

By e4m Desk | May 10, 2023 12:49 PM   |   4 min read


It’s that time of the year when the global advertising community comes together to appreciate the best in creativity. Cannes Lions 2023 is around the corner and ad agencies across the world have been pitching in their best works for the fest.


India’s MullenLowe Lintas Group has had a good run this year with campaigns that created all the right noises. Last year, the agency nominated its “H for Handwashing” campaign for Lifebuoy.

This time, the group has sent four of its best works, which are centred on diversity, inclusion and equality.



Campaign name: A boy with a rainbow heart


Infosys, a leading global organization with offices located across the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East, and Africa. The company has demonstrated its commitment to gender equality and inclusivity by fostering a workplace that is welcoming and supportive of the LGBTQIA+ community. As part of its ongoing efforts, Infosys launched a pride campaign in 2022 aimed at inspiring individuals to embrace their sexual identity with pride, despite societal pressures and negative stereotypes. The ongoing campaign is aimed to create a safe and inclusive environment for employees to express themselves freely and without fear of discrimination.


The Symbolism of the Heart and the Rainbow:


The heart is a universal symbol of love, and it doesn't matter what colour or sexual identity it represents. With this message in mind, the concept for the "boy with a rainbow heart" was born. The rainbow colours of the heart represent the colours of the Pride flag, which symbolizes the LGBTQIA+ community which helped us arrive at the core thought.



Campaign name: Redefine Family

Future Generali Indian Insurance has set policies and goals to foster equity, diversity, and inclusivity within the organization, striving for equal pay and representation. However, our products did not fully align with these values. The most comprehensive health coverage did not include partners unless they were legally married, which remains unattainable for gay and lesbian couples in India.

The queer community has redefined the concepts of family and partnership according to their own experiences, challenging both legal and social norms. They have been pushing boundaries, advocating for their rights in India's Supreme Court and navigating their lives every day. Future Generali Indian Insurance wanted to stand in solidarity with the queer community, openly supporting their partners in sickness and in health. We aimed to be where our most vulnerable customers are, ensuring that our insurance products reflect our commitment to inclusivity and support for the LGBTQIA+ community.

Campaign name: #AbsolutAlly

10 members of LGBTQIA+ community recount conversations, from their past, that was hurtful. Along with a simple yet powerful advice is helpful to millions in becoming more sensitive allies.

The films find inspiration from different personalities and icons from the LGBTQIA+ community, who share experiences from their lives, for everyone to understand - the appropriate way to have conversations, whenever talking to an individual from the LGBTQIA+ community. Each film talks about a small point that comes with one of higher importance and implication - 'How to be an Ally'.

Campaign name: Vim Black

How do we get LSM 10+ men to start washing dishes at home? If we need to get men to engage with a category they don't actively think about, we need to provoke them into a conversation. However, our provocation cannot be instructive or preachy, our provocation should be tongue-in-cheek, quirky and enjoyable, Our provocation should make men 'want' to do dishwashing!

How do we do that?

One of the interesting parts of "lockdown life" during the days of COVID, was house chores being shared equally by all members of the family. However, one member, felt the need to brag about this rather than just acknowledging that chores are a way of life for everyone. We tried to address and change this mindset in a quirky, tongue-in-cheek way where we gently nudge society to consider a different perspective.

Here's how it happened:

As a brand that offers household products and is a household name in India, we had to find an innovative way to make men aware about dishwashing being their duty. So, we rolled out a special edition Vim Liquid for men branded as, 'VIM BLACK. Made for men.

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Cannes Lions: Inside Enormous Advertising’s entries with Ashish Khazanchi

The Managing Partner of Enormous Advertising talks to e4m about the agency’s two entries for the festival of creativity

By e4m Desk | May 10, 2023 9:03 AM   |   2 min read

Cannes Lions

This year, the expectation from the Indian contingent at Cannes Lions is higher and for reasons well known. Enormous Advertising has too put its best foot forward with its entries – ‘Silence is a Luxury’ for Asahi India Glass and ‘Tested Like Samsonite’.  

Sharing more on campaigns to e4m was Ashish Khazanchi, Managing Partner at Enormous Advertising.

“It is one of the most popular campaigns and the marketing as well as the creative community really liked it. It's an old-school kind of campaign which is the best part about it. The way the story unfolded itself, it was interesting. I hope the jury loves it too. We did our best and it has reached people.”

“The whole point was Asahi needs to get attention. We brought the narrative to a sharper result. This gave the brand a lot of organic love”, he stated.

Enormous is also promoting Samsonite's most recent influencer campaign, "Tested like Samsonite," in which the brand enlisted influencers to discuss the six different tests - endurance, functionality, reliability, durability, and others, and to assist in establishing a soft emotional connection with consumers by positioning the company as a brand of stature and history.

Talking about the campaign, Khazanchi said, “It is not like any other influencer campaign or follows the usual format of an influencer promoting a product. It is not like that because we are taking a base narrative and we are building through various things that people are doing. We have not collaborated with them for their reach alone but for what they can do to enhance the narrative. We got the influencers to do all sorts of things with the product to prove the ‘Tested Like Samsonite’ narrative.”

Asked about this year's expectations, he said, “We have participated and hope for the best. We will always aspire to do the work people like and do the work that we like doing. Good work must get its hot out there, if it wins amazing, if it doesn’t we did our best!”

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The Indian advertising industry is being taken more seriously now than ever: Aditya Kanthy

The CEO and MD of DDB Mudra Group, who is one of the 13 Indian jury members at Cannes Lions this year, speaks to e4m about his excitement and expectations from the festival of creativity

By Tanzila Shaikh | May 5, 2023 8:56 AM   |   3 min read


Last year’s performance at Cannes Lions, the best in a decade, has led the Indian industry to be taken more seriously than ever, says Aditya Kanthy, CEO and MD, DDB Mudra Group. He is one of the 13 Indian jury members for the festival of creativity this year and will be judging the Creative Effectiveness Lions category.

In a conversation with e4m, Kanthy spoke about why the Indian advertising industry is being recognised by the world, what according to him constitutes a winning campaign, and much more.


Cannes has 13 creative leaders as jurors. How is the world perceiving the Indian advertising industry?

With our performance at Cannes over the last decade, there is no doubt that the Indian industry is being taken more seriously than ever. It is now expected that we will help raise the standard for the industry at large. This is true for us as a part of the global DDB network as well, with our consistent wins at Cannes over the last few years. 

Given the scale at which campaigns operate in India, it is truly exciting to see the power of creativity at work. As one of the world’s few large growing economies, the Indian market is a particularly interesting one in underlining the relationship between creativity and growth.

How has the definition of creativity changed over time?

In the age of AI-driven marketing solutions, mixed reality, hyper-personalisation, performance marketing and a whole suite of emerging technologies and media avenues at our disposal, the one thing that remains unchanged is the definition of creativity. It is still very much about doing things in a different yet relevant way, helping brands get noticed and moving people.

The genius Bill Bernbach said it beautifully, “It took millions of years for man’s instincts to develop. It will take millions more for them to even vary. It is fashionable to talk about changing man. A communicator must be concerned with the unchanging man, with his obsessive drive to survive, to be admired, to succeed, to love, to take care of his own.” Hear, hear!

What constitutes a winning campaign? What criteria will you keep in mind?

In the category that I am judging, it is very clear – demonstrable, disproportionate, business/brand/behavioural (ideally all three) outcomes.

Have the judging parameters changed over time, or from last year?

There is a clear shift towards recognising work that seriously impacts business and culture at scale.

Will parameters like inclusivity and diversity gain brownie points, especially when many brands have been accused of woke washing?

There is no question of brownie points, whether we are serious about it or not. If we are, it will come through in the work. There is no choice in the matter. Work that does not respect inclusivity and diversity has no place in business and culture.

What are you expecting from this year's Cannes?

Considering that I am judging at Cannes for the first time, I am eager to experience a new facet of the festival. With my background as a strategist, I look forward to the conversations that I will have with the other members of the Creative Effectiveness Jury talking about and evaluating the best work in the world.

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Cannes Lions: Here’s what is sending for the festival of creativity

We take a look at the entries - Swiggy’s ‘Why is this a Swiggy ad’ and Cleartrip’s Code Print campaign

By e4m Desk | May 3, 2023 9:24 AM   |   3 min read

This year, the Indian advertising industry is all geared up to meet the expectations around Cannes Lions after last year’s resounding success. Continuing with our series on the entries from India this year, we look at’s two entries at Cannes Lions 2023.

We reached out to PG Aditya, Co-founder at, to know more about their entries for the festival. Talented is sending two entries -  Swiggy’s Why is this a Swiggy ad and Cleartrip’s Code Print Ad. It should be noted that PG Aditya’s work at dentsu Creative got the agency the ‘Agency of the Year’ award with Unfiltered History bagging many more.

Why is this a Swiggy ad 

Last year in October, Swiggy, the food delivery app, posted a retro-futuristic style ad with many iconic elements like the Gulab Jamun uncle, Instamart paper bag, Bisleri 5-litre bottles, and the dubious satellite image forward of India lit up during Diwali in it. 

Netizens had a rollicking time on Swiggy's social media pages after the food delivery app posted a cryptic image with the question "Why is this a Swiggy ad?" The internet obliged and has been commenting on Swiggy's Twitter thread and Instagram comment section. After all, there's a Rs 1 lakh Swiggy money reward for the craziest theory.

Netizens were asked to come up with the craziest answers to the question with the hashtag #WITASA (Why is it a Swiggy ad?). The campaign website ( is designed to help fans of the campaign explore each element in extreme detail and unlock hidden clues that will help them crack the mystery.

Speaking on the process, Teresa Sebastian, creative at Talented, said, “It was the most enjoyable creative process, with relentless hours of making plots and sub-plots and weaving a story that you’d hear only once in your lifetime. The inspiration was 50s illustration style and sci-fi comics and movie posters (think Other Worlds, Space Man, At the Earth's Core). It was a conscious choice to make the visual an illustration to break the monotony and also to fully justify the madness we had in our minds. And of course, it took a village. Right from a fantastic client team, who was the secret sauce in making this campaign come alive at its creative best, to my colleagues at T6D and to partners like illustrator Nishikant Palande and website partner Kalpit Dwivedi.”

Cleartrip’s Code Print Ad

To encourage people to think outside of their city simply by making smarter decisions during this sale season, Cleartrip launched a print advertisement designed by in association with Web Dimension. 

This advertisement from Cleartrip attempts to make people rethink their spending strategy and encourages them to tour the world instead of buying unneeded goods at a time when the newspapers are flooded with a torrent of sale season ads screaming hefty discounts and price reduction.

The other standout feature was a website called, where users may scan any sale advertisement seen on any page of a newspaper (or elsewhere) to access a travel deal from Cleartrip for the same price. When the page is scanned, offers for domestic and international travel, 3-star hotels, and upscale accommodations appear.

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Cannes Lions: Amrita Randhawa nominated Jury President - Creative Strategy

Mahesan M., Executive Creative Director, Brand Experience & Activation, Cheil Worldwide, added to Shortlist Jury

By e4m Desk | Apr 29, 2023 7:50 AM   |   1 min read

Cannes Lions

Cannes Lions has announced its 2023 Shortlisting Jury with 197 experts from the creative industries.

Amrita Randhawa, CEO of Publicis Groupe, Singapore & Southeast Asia, has been nominated jury president for Creative Strategy.

Mahesan M., Executive Creative Director, Brand Experience & Activation, Cheil Worldwide has also been added to the Shortlist Jury, which brings the total number of Indians in this category to 8.

The Indian names in the shortlist jury include:

  • Shekhar Badve, Founder Director, LOKUS DESIGN PVT. LTD.
  • Sumeli Chatterjee, Sr. Director, Integrated Marketing & Experiences (IMX), THE COCA-COLA COMPANY, INDIA & SOUTH WEST ASIA
  • Binaifer Dulani, Creative and Founding Member, Talented, India
  • Ronak Chugh, Director, Rooted Films, India
  • Mahesh Ambaliya, Creative Director, VMLY&R, India
  • Moumita Pal, Senior Creative Director, FCB, India
  • Jini Mathai, Regional Head-Southeast Asia, Havas Health and You, Southeast Asia
  • Mahesan M., Executive Creative Director, Brand Experience & Activation, Cheil Worldwide

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Cannes Lions: Filmmaker Spike Lee is Festival’s first Creative Maker of the Year

The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity celebrates its 70th edition with this honorary award celebrating the creative maker

By e4m Desk | Apr 28, 2023 9:09 AM   |   3 min read

Cannes Lions

Cannes Lions has announced the first honorary Creative Maker of the Year award as part of the 70th edition of the International Festival of Creativity. The inaugural award will be presented at the Festival to legendary filmmaker, screenwriter, actor and producer, Spike Lee.

When the Festival was founded in 1954, the original Lion was created to recognise world-class creativity in TV and Cinema advertising. Seventy years later, this award honours that heritage, and will celebrate an increasingly broad mix of creative makers who will bring ideas to life in to the future.

Simon Cook, CEO of LIONS, said: “We know that world-class creative work takes so much to deliver. Since its inception, Cannes Lions has always been about the makers and the creatives who walk through walls to realise their vision. Going forward, this award will honour creative makers, from any discipline who are inspirational beacons for our whole community. In our 70th year, it seems appropriate that the inaugural Creative Maker award should go to a director. It’s a huge honour to present Spike Lee, one of the most influential figures in contemporary cinema and culture, with this accolade live at the Festival. Spike embodies the spirit of this award as a maker that strives to make creative stories and show the world what they can only see in their imaginations.”

The award, supported by Black At Cannes, honours multi-Lion award winner Spike Lee, whose unparalleled body of work has made an indelible mark on filmmaking, television and the creative industry. And as the founder of his own creative agency, Spike DDB, his mission has been to help brands change the world by keeping pace with culture.

Commenting on receiving the award, Spike Lee, filmmaker, screenwriter, actor, and producer, said: “I’m honored to accept the inaugural Cannes Lions Creative Maker of the Year award for my contributions to the advertising industry, but a reminder: “We keep having these obstacles, these hurdles, we have to face and we have to keep knocking them down”. I said this in 1997 and still say it today.”

Lee’s career spans over 30 years, receiving five Oscar nominations for: Do The Right Thing, 4 Little Girls, and the critically acclaimed hit feature BlacKkKlansman that he co-wrote and directed, going on to win the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2018. He was also awarded an Honorary Oscar in 2015 for his lifetime achievement and contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences.

Lee is also known for his legendary Jordan Brand TV commercials and marketing campaigns with Michael Jordan. Commenting on the award and Spike's legacy as a world-renowned creative maker, Shannon Watkins, Chief Marketing Officer at Jordan Brand, said: "Spike’s focus on telling stories, combined with his ability to capture the pulse of Black Culture sets him apart from others in the industry. Spike created iconic memories, and helped to build the soul of what Jordan Brand represents. Maybe the shoes on our feet wouldn’t make us jump as high as MJ, but just for a moment, we might feel the confidence and self-belief of the greatest to ever do it.”

Peter O Ukhurebor, Founder of Black At Cannes, commented: "Spike Lee is a creative role model who has paved the way for so many black creatives. The Creative Maker of the Year award inspires us to continue spearheading the creation of pathways for diverse voices and promoting inclusion and equity across the global creative industry. We applaud the partnership."

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Inside DDB Mudra’s Cannes Lions entries: BotHard and The Hire

Rahul Mathew, Chief Creative Officer, DDB Mudra Group, takes us through the two entries that they are sending for the festival and why have they chosen the same

By Tanzila Shaikh | Apr 26, 2023 12:48 PM   |   4 min read


This year, the Indian advertising industry is all geared up to meet the expectations around Cannes Lions after last year’s resounding success. Continuing with our series on the entries from India this year, we look at DDB Mudra’s two of their five entries.

Three of the entries that the agency is sending are - McDonald's 'EatQual' and Stayfree's 'It's just a period' in the category of creative effectiveness. They will also be sending an entry in the in the newly formed gaming category - BGMI's 'Machine-gun Mouth'.

Here, Rahul Mathew, Chief Creative Officer, DDB Mudra Group, takes us through two of the other entries.

MTV India’s BotHard

The campaign will be sent for four categories - Direct, Entertainment Lion for Music, Radio & Audio, Social & Influencer. The agency created BotHard, an AI-based rapper, to introduce rap to the youth in a country where film music dominates. It is built on the GPT3 platform and can imitate the rhyme schemes and patterns used by various rappers. So, it can generate lyrics that match the style of the chosen rapper for any word you input as a prompt. The generated lyrics are then converted into vocals using a text-to-speech engine and added to a rap beat. While the vocal track is being created, a lyric video is also generated parallelly to produce the final track.

On the brief, Matthew said, “The idea was to build an interactive way to allow participation and involve people to experience the rap scene themselves. The success of BotHard drove conversations beyond the platform and attracted scores of curious audiences, resulting in unprecedented organic traction. The campaign served as an example of MTV India's constantly evolving repertoire of tech-first consumer experiences.”

An example of BotHard -

Speaking about the challenges they faced, Matthew said, “The challenges while creating BotHard AI rapper were to balance authenticity while appealing to a broader audience. It meant striking a balance between not alienating the masses by being too niche, but also not being too watered-down that people who influence the category don't find it worth their time.”

The campaign was effective in achieving its strategic objective of taking hip-hop to the masses since its innovations were enjoyed by the genre's occasional listeners, who then went on to consume the content and champion it. This campaign resulted in the creation of over 350K rap videos. MTV Hustle Season 2.0 experienced a 9-fold increase in digital views from Season 1, with over 2 billion views.

Indeed - The Hire


The campaign will be entered into two categories - Creative B2B and Film. The campaign is a set of three films talking about the wrong hires and how Indeed is fixing that problem. Speaking about the brief, Matthew said, “Having entered India in 2017, Indeed was a relatively new player in a cluttered category and suffered from a lack of awareness. To create differentiation and build awareness, we decided to talk to an audience that went largely unnoticed: recruiters, particularly those within the SMB sector, which is one of the fastest-growing segments in the country and is characterized by inefficient and informal hiring processes.”

The campaign reached 55 million unique audiences, creating over 130 million impressions. The average click-through rate for the campaign assets ranged between 0.43% to 0.65%, significantly higher than the usual range of 0.04% to 0.08%. In the post-campaign Q4 period, the Indeed app on average witnessed over 2.9 million downloads monthly, which was 2x more than Q1.

“For the first time in the brand’s history in India, Indeed secured an app installation growth rate surpassing that of our competing brands who were more established in the Indian market than us,” he said.

Matthew also said that they have always been very picky about the work that they send to the festival. Cannes Lion 2023 is set to happen from June 19-23.

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