Cannes: Work from India is real & we are not shying away from discussing it: Tista Sen

Sen, who is a jury member in the Glass Lions category, says for her, judging entries will be about balancing the cause with the idea

e4m by Neeta Nair
Updated: Jun 3, 2019 8:34 AM

She has been one of the most vocal personalities in the ad industry on equal rights for women and more recently was the voice of The Collective, a group formed to help women speak out after the #MeToo wave, and it is only befitting that Tista Sen, Regional Creative Director, Wunderman Thompson, India & Sri Lanka, gets invited to be a part of the Glass Lions jury at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity, a category that recognises work that sets gender inequality right.

exchange4media caught up with Sen to talk about what would she be looking for in the entries, India’s performance in the Glass Lions category and more.


Edited Excerpts

You have been a jury member for Glass Lions a couple of years ago too, what has changed from then to now in the category?

It’s 2019, and we have come a long way with regards to addressing gender discrimination, gender bias and even diversity. From the first Glass Lions jury which discussed a lot of ideas on domestic abuse, dowry, child marriage etc, we have started talking about women leaders, women in technology, getting equal pay, transgenders etc. Women are so much more empowered to come up and talk about things. That’s exciting.

What would you be looking for in the entries that you judge?

I don’t like the cause distracting me from the idea, because sometimes the cause is so profound that you end up having a lot of sympathy for it, and then the idea becomes just a thing. For me, it’s always about balancing the cause with the idea, which is placed on human truth and insight, simplicity and how it changed the life of women.

Have you ever felt that there was a great entry that didn’t get through because the global jury didn’t get the enormity of the problem women face in a different part of the world?

There is always an opportunity to explain a perspective, because of course not everyone gets the culture. Women in Saudi Arabia are now allowed to drive, how do we explain that to somebody in the US. That’s why I read everything very meticulously. There is also a case video which talks about the problem and the idea. There are supporting documents describing the cultural context. Plus, on the jury panels that I have been on, I have found that people are always interested in finding out more. I don’t think it has ever been about ‘Oh, I wish I knew enough’, because on the contrary it is, ‘Oh, I had no idea, let’s find out as much as we can.’ And in today’s day and age where everything is available on the internet or even a call away, you can have access to so much information.

There are several categories where we fail to get even a shortlist but we have performed remarkably well and consistently as far as Glass Lions are concerned since its inception, what makes Indian entries so good?

In India we are never short of an issue to talk of. In a weird way I feel we are actually empowered because we are talking about these issues. Having said that it is not that a woman in the US is facing less problems than what the women in Philippines are facing, there are commonalities running throughout.  I think what’s important from India is that women are embracing and seeing the need to not just talk about women empowerment through one dimension but from all across the spectrum in terms of what is holding you back, from health to menstruation, discrimination at the workplace etc. There are so many things that women or brands are willing to talk about. And I think that’s what makes the work from India really stand out, because it’s real and nobody is shying away from addressing it.


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