People are getting more value from Cannes Lions this year: Global CSO, Wavemaker

Stuart Bowden talks about purchase journey, the revised version of Cannes Lions, Wavemaker India’s performance and a lot more

Naziya Alvi Rahman 20-June-2018

Stuart Bowden-Wavemaker

He is the Global Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) of an agency that is barely a year old but has a legacy that is already proving to be its asset. Talk to anyone in Wavemaker and they will talk about their ‘purchase journey’.

“For us, purchase journey was a founding principle,” says Stuart Bowden. In a candid chat with exchange4media at Cannes Lions 2018, Bowden talks about it in detail. He also speaks about the revised version of Cannes Lions, Wavemaker India’s performance and a lot more.

Watch the video or read the edited excerpts below:

How are you liking this revised and compact version of Cannes Lions 2018?
I think it is good that it’s a bit more down-beat this year. I think with changes inside the industry and inside WPP, it feels less pressured. People are doing more real work. I certainly get the sense that people are having more business meetings and there is less emphasis on social networking. And I do feel that people are getting more value from it this year.

Wavemaker is a relatively new entity, have you overcome the challenges of the merger?

I think we’ve overcome a lot of challenges of two large businesses coming together. There are inevitably more to overcome, as there always are. We have fully embarked on the journey and I think that a lot of the ‘heavy lifting’ is behind us; in terms of the right talent, the kind of people we want to bring into the business, the way we want to work and the areas of focus.

Obviously, making it real everywhere and making it consistent for us; the Wavemaker way of working--our understanding of purchase journey, our interest in how audiences sit behind it as well as behaviour changes in the market and making those products for our clients-- is a multi-aim mission for all of us.

Wavemaker India has been doing particularly well for the past one year. What do you think is working for your Indian team?

The Indian team has got a lot of the skills and attitude that the top 10 markets need to show for success. There is a very strong entrepreneurial spirit in India. The leadership team there understands their markets and their clients as well as the opportunities. They are very quick at spotting opportunities and changing accordingly. I think factors such as speed and agility of building the business, taking opportunities, building new technology, seeing where client needs are and responding to them very fast are making them so successful.

It is one of the hardest things for a network business to be able to maintain its local freedom of manoeuvre, form its management team and not get weighed down by global processes and operations.

Kartik (Kartik Sharma) and his team there are exemplars for us. I know Tim (Tim Castree) mentioned this when you met him the last time, and it is absolutely true. We hear from him (Kartik Sharma) on a weekly basis about the work, the wins, the people and the initiatives which he is driving there. I am so amazed and proud at the speed at which that business is working and changing.

How about your other markets? Which other markets are doing as well as India?

I would say Italy, when we look internally in terms of large scale markets. There are quite a lot of similarities between these two markets, in terms of how they are led, how they are structured and the entrepreneurial spirit behind it.

Maxus and MEC were both primarily local businesses. Most of our clients are local and multi-market clients; they aren’t global. This means that most of our CEOs and management board members have had to go in their markets and win clients themselves by meeting them face-to-face and proving that they are worth that relationship.

We have more than our fair share of entrepreneurs and more than our fair share of people who have had to roll their sleeves up and work with clients to find ways to do it better. That is certainly present in Italy. We are the largest media agency in Italy and this has been built brick by brick by our team there, same as in India.

When Wavemaker was in the inception stage, there was a lot of discussion around purchase journey. How has that helped you and how do you look at strengthening it further?

For us, purchase journey was a founding principle. The big opportunity for us in creating a new business out of MEC and Maxus was a chance to step back and think about the way we wanted to work and the way we wanted to build our tools and processes so that we knew what product we were making for clients. And purchase journey helped us in all those areas.

It helps us clarify our thinking and gives us a consistent lens on client problems. I think the complexity for clients- the range of choices that they are asked to make within their marketing budget- can become debilitating. It is almost impossible for them to make a rational choice about where to spend their next dollar to grow their business.

Purchase journey reminds us the purpose we are there for. Our professional service guides the clients in a way that their business grows. It has allowed us to build an internal process and guides our tech roadmap. When we’re working with our tech partners or building our own tech, it allows us to be straightforward in our understanding about how consumers navigate the purchase journey. It helps us to know where to place those financial bets for clients. We can understand where they over-invest or where they under-invest and how does the purchase journey work?

We want to deepen our understanding of the purchase journey. At this time, there are 4,00,000 purchase journeys that we’ve surveyed globally. It will reach a million by the end of 2018. With the million journeys analysed by the end of this year, we will have a very strong analytical position to sit behind the investment recommendations that we make to clients.

Keith Weed has made a statement about his organisation distancing itself from influencers because he feels that is affecting the trust factor in advertising. What do you think is the way forward?

We have a large and successful content business with nearly 750 people working on it globally, and part of that is in influencer marketing. I do share a lot of his concerns, but influencer marketing is quite broad. He is right to raise concerns about things that look as if they are properly influencer generated content and things that are advertising. In a lot of markets, that is strongly legislated on a lot of platforms. Sponsored and non-sponsored content is clearly distinguished. A lot of clients are also concerned about brand trust.

What is being done about this? Any measures that Wavemaker has taken in terms of fixing the problems around brand safety and trust?

Group M has very heavily invested in brand safety and brand trust. We are heavily involved in our own white-listing and working with leading white-listing tech. Every client will make their own choice about the range of risk that they are prepared to accept. Even in direct IO based buys, it is very difficult to guarantee 100% brand safety. You may have highly performance-based clients; clients who are very focussed on sale outcomes and would probably accept a higher degree of risk in order to reach a larger number of potential customers. But most clients will have a very clear conversation about the degree of white-listing that they insist on and we take that very seriously.

(Transcription credit: Sudha Joshi)

Associate Editor, exchange4media, Mumbai As the editorial head for the website, Naziya covers media, advertising and marketing domains. Prior to joining the digital domain, she worked for 12 years with leading newspapers covering political, legal and crime beats.


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Cannes Lions launches 2019 festival; adds two new Lions, retires Product Design

Creative Strategy Lion and Entertainment Lion for Sport have been launched

exchange4media Staff 02-November-2018


The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity has officially launched the 2019 Festival, opening for delegate registration and announcing details around next year’s event.

Two new Lions will be added to the awards line-up in 2019. The Creative Strategy Lion will sit within the Reach Track and will celebrate the idea behind the idea, how strategic planning can redefine a brand, reinvent its business, and influence consumers or wider culture. Elsewhere, complementing the Entertainment Track, the Entertainment Lion for Sport will celebrate creativity that leverages the galvanising power of sports and eSports for brands.

Commenting on the launch of these two Lions, Simon Cook, VP Creative Excellence, said, “Both of these Lions represent a shifting industry landscape and now is the right time to recognise these disciplines through our awards. With an increasingly broader creative communications ecosystem, the Creative Strategy Lion will elevate and define the importance of strategy in creative vision, while the Entertainment Lion for Sport will give credence to the breadth of content and communications surrounding this unique global market.”

Also announced is the decision to retire the Product Design Lions. Categories from this Lion will be absorbed into the Design Lions and Innovation Lions.

For the first time, Cannes Lions will appoint Track Ambassadors ahead of the 2019 Festival. “The nine tracks - Craft, Communication, Experience, Reach, Impact, Good, Innovation, Health and Entertainment – are an organising structure that reflect and represent the core disciplines that underpin and define the global branded communications industry. We are appointing track ambassadors to champion, offer advisory, and elevate their specific discipline,” said Philip Thomas, Chairman, Cannes Lions. The track ambassadors will be chosen from the 2019 jury presidents.

Details of the content programme have also been announced, with sessions operating within the framework of the nine tracks. The agenda is set to be more immersive and interactive than before, including more case studies, Q&A and debate. Some of the topics set to be covered include ‘The Impact of Creativity’, ‘Equality, Diversity and Inclusion’, ‘Industry Transformation’, ‘Digital Transformation’, ‘Creative Strategy’, ‘Multi-touchpoint Storytelling, Craft and Brand Experience’, and ‘Trust, Ethics and Transparency’.

The Call for Stage Content is open until 14 December 2018 and welcomes ideas and submissions from anyone and anywhere. There is no charge to speak on stage and successful submissions are chosen based on the strength of the idea and how original, unique and unexpected it is. Cannes Lions will take place from 17-21 June 2019.

Delegate registration is now open and accommodation is available to book. Further information can be found at


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Delegate Speak: Cannes Lions newer version is more focussed

Regulars at the five-day festival felt the turnout was almost 30-40 per cent less compared to previous years; the absence of Publicis Groupe was well noticed

Naziya Alvi Rahman 25-June-2018

A lot has changed about Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this year. The event was reduced to five days with new awards and subcategories introduced. Participation for entries was restricted to a maximum of six Lions. A revised points system aiming to reward creativity along with larger rewards for winning the Creative Effectiveness and Titanium Grand Prix was brought in. Charity and NGO work were separated from brand-led communication over a two-year ‘transitional’ period. The regulars felt that the turnout this year was almost 30-40 per cent less than previous years. And the absence of Publicis Groupe also contributed to the decrease in footfall.

Commenting on the new improved festival, Jose Papa, Managing Director, Cannes Lions said, “The changes we have made are a new phase for the Festival and we’re excited to focus on creativity at the heart of everything we do. Just as the industry has to innovate, so does the Festival, and it has to make changes that the industry wants. The new structure is a big change to how we present and think about the Lions but it was important to do it if the Festival is to remain relevant. The new tracks are a way of organising the awards and the festival to reflect the ways agencies and marketers approach their day-to-day work.”

So as the sun officially set on the 65th Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, we spoke to some of the delegates and participants on their views of the newer version of the festival.

Sir Martin Sorrell, Executive Chairman, S4 Capital
With all due respect to the people here and to Cannes, may not be the best place for the industry to be seen and heard given the challenges and the opportunities you referred to. I know the organisers are continuously thinking about where the best place is to be and what the best timing is. The industry is facing a lot of challenges and there are big opportunities, as I’m trying to point out. The glass is half full, not half empty, and I think the point is well made. I do think we have to re-examine how we do this, attendance is down by 25 per cent this year and one person said to me that creative attendance here is down even more sharply, and if that is true, that’s even more regrettable. But there is a place for awards with clients and without clients. Our clients are always very proud of our awards and our people are proud of our awards and I think it is something that must be maintained. Whether this is the right place and the right time is another question. I have some sympathy with the backgrounds of the question. I think we can achieve the same pride but in a different way.

Prasoon Joshi, Chairman McCann Worldgroup, Asia Pacific
I think it was necessary to reduce the days. It should become tighter and define very clearly what it stands for. I’m a purist, you cannot want to be everything for everyone. Now there’s more interaction and cohesiveness.

Mike Cooper, Global CEO, PHD
I like it a lot and I hope it continues. I like the fact that it is a bit smaller and less crowded. I think everything feels a bit more accessible. I think it’s healthy that Cannes Lions is re-focussing on the most important thing, which is being a festival of creativity. That’s why people are here. Because it is a festival of creativity, there are agencies, then the clients and the media owners also started coming. A couple of years ago I felt like questioning what it was. Is it a festival of creativity? Or a festival of technology, or consultancy? Is it like a version of CES? I think it’s good that it has been re-focussed and it feels a lot better and it is a much stronger event because of that. It felt as if it had over expanded a bit in the past. Everybody needs to remember is that it is agencies that produce the product; they are the ones that build transformational, innovative solutions for clients. That’s what is important, and Cannes Lions is about celebrating that innovation and creativity. Anything that gets us back to that place is a good thing.

Stuart Bowden, Global Chief Strategy Officer, Wavemaker
I think it is good that it’s a little bit more down-beat this year. I think with the changes inside the industry and inside WPP, it feels less pressured. People are doing more real work. I certainly get the sense that people are having more business meetings and there is less emphasis on social networking, and I do feel like people are getting more value from it this year.

Jennifer Risi, ‎Worldwide Chief Communications Officer & Managing Director, Ogilvy Media Influence - ‎Ogilvy
I come from a PR background, where there is always less money than in advertising, so I believe smaller is sometimes better. I think it is about the clients, the work and our people. Although this still doesn’t seem small, it does feel smaller than it was in the past. I think it’s good, you don’t need that level of excess, because we don’t live in that world anymore. Ogilvy has had more events with our clients, such as yesterday with our Chief Creative Officer and the CMO of SCJ with Forbes. Our CEO, John Seifert had a meeting with our clients at IBM, Philips and Unilever. We’ve also had a meeting about our diversity agenda. We are doing more to add substance to benefit the business and to let our people see that they can learn and grow here. Having a party on the beach is nice, but I would take what we are doing substantively with our clients over anything else we would do.

Simon Brockman, Head of Global Brands & Agencies - Asia Pacific, Twitter
Yes the number of people participating in the festival has come down. Publicis Groupe obviously is not there. A lot of agencies have reduced the number of people they have sent to the festival. It is expensive. This is also one of the challenges that agencies face. Making money is also one of the primary responsibilities of businesses.
But if you ask about us, this is our best year. And the reason for this is that a lot of exciting things are happening for us - we are growing and we are profitable.

Associate Editor, exchange4media, Mumbai As the editorial head for the website, Naziya covers media, advertising and marketing domains. Prior to joining the digital domain, she worked for 12 years with leading newspapers covering political, legal and crime beats.


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Cannes Lions: Susan Johnson, CMO of SunTrust Bank speaks on the power of confidence

A session at Cannes Lions highlighted the importance of confidence in helping people realise their true potential

exchange4media Staff 25-June-2018

On the final day of Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2018, three delegates sat down to explore the secrets of confidence that help ordinary people find direction, overcome obstacles, navigate uncertainty and create change.

The session titled ‘The Strange Power of Confidence’ started off with Susan Somersille Johnson, Chief Marketing Officer of SunTrust Bank sharing her personal and professional experiences which had produced more confidence in her. The Harvard and Wharton graduate began her career as an engineer before she became a marketer, “Doing math and science built confidence in me because they were based on facts, but marketing was different. I was going to be judged by everyone. Confidence just doesn’t grow at a steady rate, it fluctuates, it fails, and often your fear will overcome it. But there are key moments when you have to make a decision.”

Johnson is reinventing the marketing playbook for SunTrust—bridging technology, creativity and marketing to revitalise the 127-year-old financial services brand and propel it onto a larger stage. “In the US, 80% people are worried about their finances. The truth is everyone can achieve financial confidence which will give you greater life satisfaction and greater confidence. We found three principles that led to financial confidence, first is to know what matters most to you - when your priorities are clear, your confidence doesn’t waiver. Second, use the tools that available and learn from those who have experienced and conquered the same problem. And the third, forget shame and pride - lean on a friend, nobody likes to talk about money but with a friend you can.” SunTrust launched an initiative called the ‘onUp’ to inspire confidence through personal finances which was showcased during the Super Bowl. The program now has over 3.4 million participants.

The initiative was produced by Scott Goodson, founder and CEO of StrawberryFrog, “I believe advertising can do more than sell products, it can start a movement. A movement is about experience, about action, the courage to start something new. When you start something new you need a lot of confidence. Leaders learn a lot from societal movements, you can apply the principles of societal movements in order to globalise the masses and drive positive change.”

StrawberryFrog created movements for SunTrust, Emirates, Heineken, Mahindra, Jim Beam, and many more, “We worked with Jim Beam, a legacy spirits brand that was in need of a brand facelift. We wanted to change the way consumers looked at Jim Beam and bourbon in general, so we created a movement called ‘Make History’ with a young female spokesperson, actress Mila Kunis. And it worked. Movements motivate people to try new things, traditional marketing does not. We are private army of movement makers, not an ad agency.”

Goodson then introduced actor and producer, David Oyelow, who portrayed Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., which required a lot of confidence, to the session. Oyelowo shared how confidence plays a major part in any life pursuit, especially acting. He emphasised how confidence comes with learning, preparing and working with seasoned professionals such as actors Daniel Day-Lewis and Tom Cruise.

Oyelowo said that we are all on the journey of learning hence it is important to ask questions and learn continuously. “I don’t think confidence is something that is innate for us as human beings. It’s something that is learned. That, as far as I’m concerned, is to do with preparation. The level of preparation makes you confident, it’s the same for a man and a woman. Anything I have achieved is entirely linked to the amount of preparation I had done before the performance. Dr King was a prime example of someone who gained confidence in the face of adversity by drawing on what was important to him alongside intense preparation,” he concluded.

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Lion Of St Mark, 2 Grands Prix- when 21 is as good as 40 at Cannes Lions

Piyush and Prasoon Pandey received Lion of St Mark; Ogilvy India and TBWA\ India bagged a Grand Prix each; FCB India won two gold Lions for Sindoor Khela

Naziya Alvi Rahman and Venkata Susmita Biswas 25-June-2018

After an extraordinary performance in 2017, India scored 21 metals in total at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2018. Even though the metal haul this year is half that of last year’s it would be an unfair comparison to take the tally into account. The all-new Cannes Lions saw a reduction in sub-categories and had a six-Lion cap on the number of categories in which one campaign could be entered, drastically impacting the chances for one campaign to sweep the award show.

In fact, the total number of entries dropped by a fifth this year because of the restructuring of the festival and Publicis’ self-imposed exile from award festivals. India’s conversion rate in 2018 was 2.15% with a total of 979 entries from India in comparison the conversion rate in 2017 was 3.26.

Indian agencies bagged the two Grand Prix Lions for the fourth year in a row and gold, silver, and bronze Lions in the Glass category keeping up the tradition of winning in the category every year since its launch in 2015. 

But the Indian contingent was not counting metals alone this year. That’s because 2018 was extraordinary in its own way for India. India’s most beloved and revered ad-men brothers Piyush and Prasoon Pandey were honoured with the Lion of St. Mark, recognising their contribution to the ad word. “I am not thinking about the numbers. I feel that this is a very special year for India as someone like Pandey brothers are getting an honor like this," felt Parixit Bhattacharya, CCO, TBWA\ India.

Commenting on India’s performance in 2018, Prasoon Joshi, Chairman McCann Worldgroup Asia Pacific, said, “I wished and hoped that some of the ideas will do better, but you can only work hard. I think we are working hard. Yes, it has not been as big a year.”

Considering the size of the country, India should be performing better, he felt. “We keep trying and we have come a long way. If you see earlier, we had very little to show in our performance. The year when I won 2 gold Lions here, suddenly we said India is winning. Then I think we kept on winning. Cut to last year and we saw McCann winning 16 Lions. We have come a long way from no performance to performance of this sort. I think we are doing well, and I think the culture is very important for that. We push people to excel in the ideas of the craft and in India over the years I’ve tried to work hard to build a culture of excellence," said Joshi.

India may not have won in numbers like last year, but India won big anyway. Josy Paul, Chairman BBDO India felt that it was a year of unpredictability, both at the football World Cup and Cannes Lions 2018. “That's what made the awards this week so exciting. India won 21 Lions. The big ones! What a great show! True contribution and influence for our world,” he said.

Summing up the India story at Cannes in 2018, Sumanto Chattopadhyay, Chairman & Chief Creative Officer, Soho Square, said, "The Pandeys being awarded the Lion of St. Mark was the crowning glory for the Indian delegation to Cannes 2018. In his acceptance speech, Piyush said he hoped there would be a lioness receiving the same honour soon. Until then, there are already two Indian 'lionesses' who have made their mark at Cannes -- Kainaz Karmakar who is behind Savlon Chalk Sticks and Swati Bhattacharya with her Sindoor Khela. They prove that, when it comes to Indian creativity, #NoConditionsApply.”

Room for Improvement?

Parixit Bhattacharya felt that creatives need to grow out of basing creativity on what has worked in the past. “Creative people have such a good pulse in their pocket but I think we rely on history on how we have usually been doing things and we use that understanding and logic to inform. All our systems, all our guidelines, everything you know comes from the past. It doesn’t work always. You have to figure how to revive it. I feel that a lot of people are doing it,” he said.

He also laid emphasis on a healthy relationship between agencies and marketers. “There are so many smart marketers. Perhaps a bit more faith and better relationships is all that is required between clients and large agencies because they are doing their work and they can value. We need to merge the creative with strategy,” he said.

The creative community often complains that marketers are holding them back. Joshi said that that excuse is not valid. “I consider that to be absolutely incorrect. In my experience, all the great work which I have been able to produce is because of great clients who have really partnered with us. Yes, you do need more clients who believe in you and who are willing to partner with you, but the excuse that clients don’t allow us to do great work is just an excuse, it is not the reality.”
The Week That Was

India opened its account with TBWA\ India winning the Lions Health Grand Prix for Good and a Gold in Pharma Lions on Day 1. It was one of the most talked about campaigns from India. Grey India’s Sehat Ka Batua for Mahindra Rise, DDB Mudra’s Project Free Period for Stayfree and McCann Health’s Noon Assembly for Kwality that won the in Health&Wellness category reaffirmed Indian agencies’ prowess in the category.

FCB India’s Sindoor Khela which was one of the big winners this year brought home two gold Lions and two Bronze Lions including a Gold in the Glass category. The wins this year ended FCB India’s long spell of draught at Cannes Lions. “The Lions we've won for our campaign for TOI stands testimony to the creative transformation at FCB India. This transformation has energised the entire agency, creating a momentum and a new winning culture,” said Rohit Ohri, Group Chairman & CEO, FCB India, when the agency bagged its first metal, a bronze on Day 3.

The campaign which is unique to the Indian social context and in specific to the Hindu Bengali custom broke barriers and won hearts of the jury members. Some say that one of the reasons Indian ideas do not win at global platforms is because a lot of the meaning is lost in translation.

Citing an example on how this could happen, Prasoon Joshi, Chairman, McCann Worldgroup, Asia Pacific said, “I remember there was the Eunuch campaign we did about the Kinnar community in India. Most of them go to sing, dance and celebrate in a home when a baby boy is born. The idea was to make them understand that the girl child is also important and so they should also dance and celebrate the birth of a girl. We wrote a few songs for them which gave examples of great women in the world and how beautiful it is to have a girl child. The thing is, it didn’t reach where it should have reached globally, because understanding this culture of the Kinnar community in India and their role in the celebration of the birth of a baby is an alien idea to outsiders. Indians praised the campaign, but I don’t think it had gotten it’s due in terms of recognition.” This year FCB India’s success also lied in beating the cultural-disconnect.

Ogilvy India scored a Grand Prix for the Savlon Healthy Hands Chalk Sticks initiative in the Creative Effectiveness category, proving once again that if a client pursues a simple idea, one can win more than just awards - one can solve big problems.

McCann Worldgroup India won a gold for the Paytm Sweet Change campaign in the newly-introduced Creative e-commerce category. The category seemed just perfect for the Paytm campaign. It celebrates creative, commercial ecommerce, payment solutions and innovation. Entries were judged on innovation and optimisation of the customer journey resulting in increased consumer engagement and commercial success. 

Where India lagged, yet again

The win the the Creative e-commerce Lions category notwithstanding, India once again failed to make a mark in the Digital Craft and Creative Data categories. The number of entries from India in each of these categories tell a story. Creative Data had a total of 7 entries from India, while Digital Craft had 8 entries. None of these entries made it to the shortlist stage.

In the Mobile Lions category where India had a total of 31 entries, only one secured a shortlist which did not get converted into a win. India did not impress jurors in the newly introduced Social and Influencer Lions category which is based on the old Cyber Lions category. Two of the 76 entries made it to the shortlist but did not make the cut in the final outcome.

The other categories where India drew a blank are : PR, Media, Sustainable Goals Development Entertainment for Music, Design Lions, Industry Craft, Film Lions, Entertainment Lions, Radio&Audio, and the ultimate Titanium Lions.

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S4 Capital a peanut in comparison to WPP, but yes, people have peanut allergies: Sorrell

Sir Martin Sorrell delivered a talk at the Lumiere theatre, the biggest auditorium at the Palais des festival, which got packed within minutes as people flocked to listen to the ad guru

Naziya Alvi Rahman 25-June-2018

Despite all the controversies surrounding him, when Sir Martin Sorrell speaks, everyone listens. Case in point is his recent talk at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity where the Lumiere theatre, the biggest auditorium at the Palais des festival, got packed within minutes.
Sorrell, who was in conversation with writer and author Ken Auletta, said the need for him to start a new company comes from client demand.
“I say it on the basis from what I hear from clients. For example, if you and I were starting a company, you listen to the most prominent CMOs that you’ve mentioned in your book, Mark Pritchard of Procter and Gamble, or Keith Weed of Unilever and you listen carefully to what they say, and what the people who work with them say. They want agencies which are much more flexible, faster, cheaper; agencies who are more global, local, who can relocate with them and agencies that can deal with local clients, as well as the millennial influencers,” said Sorrell.
When asked that with all the knowledge and experience that he has, if he is now starting his new company called S4 Capital to take on WPP, Sorrell called his new company a ‘peanut’ in comparison to WPP.

“S4 Capital of which I am Executive Chairman, is a peanut in comparison, but I do have to admit that some people have peanut allergies,” said Sorrell, leaving the audience laughing for the next few seconds.
During a session filled with Sorrell’s sharp wit, there were also a few moments of serious silence when the media guru was confronted with all kinds of allegations floating around him.
Auletta asked him to explain the circumstances under which he was compelled to leave WPP. He was also confronted with allegations of being ‘verbally abusive and cruel to people in the office’.
“Am I an easy person to deal with? No. Am I demanding? Yes. I don’t think that was fair. I think I demanded high standards. I don’t know who The Financial Times spoke to. They claim they spoke to 20- 25 people, maybe they spoke to the wrong 20 or 25 people. I said over the last 6 or 7 weeks I received numerous emails (from WPP colleagues) and maybe one of the things I should do is publish those emails that I received which would contradict what you just said,” Sorrell responded.
Countering most of the allegations against him including that of financial and personal misconduct, Sorrell said he has responded formally to everything.
Finally coming to the question of why did he leave WPP, Sorrell cleverly skipped giving details by saying he has explained everything to the 200,000 people in WPP in a letter.
“I explained that very simply in the letter I wrote to the 200,000 people in WPP, that I felt that the situation had become untenable for several reasons and that it was in the best interest of the shareholders, the clients and the people inside the company,” he added.
After the session with Ken Auletta, Sorrell sat down for a press conference with journalists at Cannes. Edited Excerpts: 

S4 Capital is backed by millions, and in this industry do you not need more than that to make an impact?

Obviously, the more resources you have access to, the better. We started WPP with a market capital of about 1 million, Derrison has a market capital of about 2 million. We put in 53 million sterling with non-binding commitments in relation to another 170 million euros, so I think that’s a good place to start. The interesting thing about the fragmented part of the industry is that more of the players are not what I would call very large, but in relation to the previous question, the private equity industry is a very big industry raising about half a trillion dollars a year, they leverage it up by 3, 4 or 5 times and they have a lot of firepower in that industry too. We will have access to what we need in the early part and that’s the more important part. Apart from private equity, there are forces in the industry that are looking to expand their offer and diversify their approach. There is a lot of complementarity and I think it would be wrong for us to focus narrowly on the resources that you’ve identified.

Can you tell us 3 new things you’ve learnt at Cannes this week?

The first thing I’ve learnt is never do an interview with Ken Auletta, and second, never give a press conference. The third thing, everything comes back to the guardian question, if you look around at where the investment is being made, it demonstrates to me that the biggest investment here is in consulting. The consulting companies is where you see ‘boats on the quay’; you see PWC being overlooked by Accenture, if Omnicom and WPP had 2 boats next to each other, one looking over the other, I think I would be a bit worried about my investment for both. That is where the weight is at the moment and with all due respect to Ken’s book, I don’t think he brought out enough of the challenges, not on a head to head basis but in the senior reaches of the clients. They go to the clients and say: “you have a lot of technological challenges and you’re spending a lot of money, can we help you reduce that spend and our reward would be a percentage of what we save”. That is a pretty seductive message.

When you look back at the events of the last 12-18 months, do you have any regrets?

If I look at strategically where WPP is going, and I’ve said this before, all the holding companies which Ken looked at were moving in the same direction. I think the only difference is the speed at which you get to that destination. If you quickly go through them, the village concept of embracing horizontality and they done it in a slightly different way. In Ken’s session I tried to say that its an interesting model because it is very different. If you go to IPG, it’s not as pronounced but integrated but Mc Cann is almost a group a group of it own and highly integrated. Dentsu has one of the best positions, if not the best position around media, digital and data, with Publicis there is clear articulation of strategy, clearly appealing to clients when you look at Campbell’s and Marriott, they win that pitch on the simplicity of their offer. The big issue is whether they can deliver it and whether if you call everything by one brand name, the brand names they exclude in their case Saatchi, Leo Burnett and BBH, suffer as a result. The issue is as you elevate one part of your organisation, is it counterbalances by declines elsewhere. Omnicom is probably the least integrated, although as Ken pointed out, they did it with McDonald’s and to some extent to AT&T, but probably much more autonomous and independent, but certainly leaning in that direction. Back to your question about regret, the regret is probably we didn’t do more, in terms of simplification of verticals. More client or in take of work, more country management, and last, but not least, the digital underpinnings to it. the acceleration of that strategy, the question is not where you’re going, the question is the speed.  

Since you set up Derrison rather quickly, were there plans to set it up earlier when you were at WPP? If you were still at WPP what would you change?

I would still carry on implementing that strategy. It about simplifying the verticals. More focus on client and country and the digital underpinning. The most difficult question is when you flip from an organisation is vertically organised where the primacy is in the global brand leaders. When do you flip it to a client and country led organisation. My view is that in time that is inevitable that you move to a country level organisation, given the changes and the growth of local brands, the growth of millennial driven, new media driven brands. The most of the companies that we are talking about, maybe Publicis is slightly different, but in all the other companies, the global brand is the primary driver. And in my view the most difficult thing is when you flip that switch to a client led organisation and a country led organisation.

(Transcription credit: Sudha Joshi)

Associate Editor, exchange4media, Mumbai As the editorial head for the website, Naziya covers media, advertising and marketing domains. Prior to joining the digital domain, she worked for 12 years with leading newspapers covering political, legal and crime beats.


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Cannes Lions 2018: The Week That Was In Pictures

The Pandey Khandaan, as promised, was in full attendance to watch brothers Piyush and Prasoon receive top honours.

exchange4media Staff 23-June-2018

After a satisfying performance at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, it is finally time to wrap up and head back home to celebrate the laurels won with the teams back in India. As the teams fly back home, we take a look back at the week that was in images. The Pandey family including wives and sisters were at the French Riviera to cheer the brothers has they received the Lion of St Mark on Friday night. 

Jose Papa, MD, Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, was seen celebrating at goal from one ongoing FIFA 2018 on Friday evening. 

Attendees made a beeline for the most-awaited public appearance of Sir Martin Sorrell on Friday

BBDO India, Chairman, Josy Paul, was in his element at the French Riviera. We expected nothing less!

We also found Ogilvy India, CCO, Kainaz Karmakar lugging around her bag of snacks andmoisturiser all week long. No one likes to stay hungry and unmoisturised, Kainaz, we agree!

The party began on Monday with the Indian community raising a toast to the Pandey Brothers

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Piyush and Prasoon Pandey wear India on their hearts as they receive Lion of St Mark

As the Pandey brothers receive the highest honour at Cannes Lions, they remember their growing up years, large family and their home being a veritable art school

Naziya Alvi Rahman 25-June-2018

It was the moment that the Indian ad industry had been waiting for for five months. Piyush and Prasoon Pandey finally held the Lion of St. Mark award in their hands on Friday evening as the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2018 came to an end on Friday evening. Dressed in similar black jackets and wearing the flag of India brooch on their heart, the Pandeys, who have been winning hearts of millions of consumers through their outstanding ads, made a short yet powerful speech ahead of holding the prestigious Lion in their hand.

Here is what elder brother Piyush Pandey, Executive Director and Creative Chairman of South Asia, Ogilvy, who compared his life to a dream said ahead of holding the award:
“If I was to shut my eyes and rewind that dream, what do I see? I see my parents and my sister flagging me off on this run, and as I start running, I see millions of Indians cheering at me in 16 different languages. I can see at their faces that they are cheering at me, I don’t understand their language. As I go along I see a lot of wonderful clients who are handing me over bottles of water and lemonade. As I run on I see my family again, they have grown in size. Now my sisters have married and have children and grandchildren. I also see my wife with her six dogs waging their tails and she asks me to keep running. And I keep running. Along the line I see somebody running alongside. And I look from the side and it’s my brother. So we rub shoulders and we keep running. So as we run along I see a lot of Ogilvy people from India and international who are waving Oglivy flags and tell me, don’t stop. And there are also competitors, who have wonderful expressions on their faces. They don’t look like rivals, they also cheer me up. And at the end of the day I still feel like running. My heart is pumping and I look up to the sky and my parents and my two sisters whom I lost are saying, don’t stop, keep running.”
The ace advertiser further took social media by storm by making an observation that earned him good wishes and accolades from across the world. “So before I go I must add one thing, I’d love to see a Lioness on this stage very shortly,” he concluded.

Younger brother Prasoon Pandey, director of his own production house venture, Corcoise Films, attributed a large part of his success story to the fact that he was born in a large family and a house that looked like a “cramped art school”.
“By the time Piyush and I came in, all the four corners of the house were taken up by our sisters. One was learning classical dance where another one was learning music or rehearsing lines for a theatre performance. In another corner my father was teaching someone how to recite poetry, my mum was discussing powerful women characters in literature. It was like one cramped art school where one could just not escape the learning,” said the younger Pandey.
He further went on to thank his institute, The National Institute of Design, which besides teaching him design also acted as a matchmaker as it was here that Prasoon found his love. “My wife is my best buddy and also my best critic.”
Earlier in the day in the duo had a conversation with Philip Thomas, CEO of Ascential Events, the parent company of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. The fun-filled session saw Thomas ask the two brothers about their work together and their ability to add humour to everything they do.When asked by Thomas who amongst the two is more creative, Piyush said while he would ideate, it is Prasoon who will pursue and shape the idea and give the final outcome. “Also sometimes I am kind to him as he is the youngest in the family,” said Piyush teasingly. However, for Prasoon it’s the elder brother who is undisputedly more creative of the two. “There have been times when we would sit and think about an idea for hours and Piyush will solve it minutes. When we were doing the Fevikwik ad, me and my team sat throughout Saturday morning to noon, thinking of possible ideas. Around noon Piyush came in and asked us what were we working on, and within minutes gave the idea of fisherman using Fevikwik, that later became the ad of the year,” he added.

Associate Editor, exchange4media, Mumbai As the editorial head for the website, Naziya covers media, advertising and marketing domains. Prior to joining the digital domain, she worked for 12 years with leading newspapers covering political, legal and crime beats.


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A Night to Remember for Ogilvy India - A Grand Prix; Lion of St Mark for Pandey Brothers

FCB India won gold in Glass Lions for Sindoor Khela. Cheil India bagged a silver while BDDO fetched a bronze in Glass Lions.

exchange4media Staff 23-June-2018

The week at the French Riviera ended with a bang on Friday night for India. India bagged a Grand Prix, and a gold, silver and bronze in Glass Lions. The total metal tally at the end of the week long celebration of the best of advertising stands at 21. 
The metal tally aside, Friday night was a remarkable night for India and Ogilvy. India’s veteran ad-men Piyush and Prasoon Pandey were honoured with the Lion of St Mark for their outstanding contributions to the industry.

Ogilvy India’s award-winning campaign Savlon Health Hands Chalk Sticks wins the Grand Prix in the Creative Effectiveness category on the final awards night at the 65 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. It is the first time that India has bagged two Grand Prix awards in a year. Accepting the award, Kainaz Karmakar and Harshad Rajadhyaksha, said, “This is the kind of win that makes you forget all the words you know since childhood but we have managed to hold on to a few. This award belongs to the bravery of our ITC Savlon client and our Team Savlon back in the Ogilvy office. Mahesh Ambaliya, the originator of the idea, we salute you. Humbled to be on the stage on the same night as Piyush Pandey and Prasoon Pandey. This can only be God at work.”

India sets a record in Glass Lions winning gold, silver, and bronze for three different campaigns. FCB India’s Sindoor Khela - No Conditions Apply which has already won a gold and two bronze Lions this year wins a Gold in the Glass Lions category.

On the occasion of winning the prestigious Glass Lion Rohit Ohri, Group Chairman & CEO, FCB India said, “With this Glass Lion win FCB's campaign for TOI is now one of the most awarded Indian campaigns globally. This Glass Lion is a testimony to our deep belief that Behaviour Change lies at the very foundation of advertising effectiveness. Through this campaign we changed a 400 year old tradition of discrimination into a new tradition of sisterhood.”

Cheil Worldwide India’s Samsung Technical School - Seema Nagar campaign for Samsung India bags a silver in the category. “I am very proud of our wins at Cannes Lions 2018. Both wins, a Silver Glass Lion for Samsung Technical School – Seema Nagar campaign and Bronze Innovation Lion for Good Vibes Project are a testament of the great and impactful work we are doing for our clients and society as a whole. Winning for real work has made it even more rewarding.We are honoured with the global recognition and will make sure we continue to create more work that embraces our company’s philosophy of creativity inspired by technology. Looking forward to many more awards in the coming months,” said Sagar Mahabaleshwarkar, CCO, Cheil WW India on winning a Glass and Innovation Lion.

BBDO India’s #StandByToughMoms for AllOut wins bronze in Glass Lions. “We are super thrilled that All Out #StandByToughMoms has won a Glass Lion,” gushed Josy Paul, chairman BBDO India. “This means the world to us at SCJ and BBDO India. It’s the Lion for Change and we thank the jury for recognising our work. Thank you for valuing the transformational quality of the idea as it challenges cultural and social structures to give mothers more power and freedom to discipline and protect their children for the future. And in the process building greater emotional equity and trust for the brand. This is our 4th Glass Lion in four years at BBDO India, and we are encouraged and super charged to build on this foundation,” he added.

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Cannes Lions 2018: Can We Redefine Femininity with Creativity?

In a conversation hosted by COVERGIRL and creative agency Droga5, this session discussed how creators push the boundaries of creativity by giving women the power to define it

exchange4media Staff 25-June-2018

It’s no secret that women's roles in society are rapidly evolving. They are beginning to define what femininity means (or doesn't mean) to the creation of their identities. On the last day of Cannes Lions 2018, Katy Alonzo, Group Strategy Director, Droga5, Issa Rae, Cover Girl Ambassador, Writer, Actress, , Ukonwa Ojo, Senior Vice President, CoverGirl and Michelle Lee, Editor in Chief, Allure graced the stage for a final, high-powered session on 'Can We Redefine Femininity with Creativity?'

In a conversation hosted by COVERGIRL and creative agency Droga5, this session discussed ways creators can challenge conventional assumptions about the expression of femininity, and push the boundaries of creativity by giving women the power to define it. On does makeup and beauty mix with feminism, Alonzo said, “We always assume that femininity is in service to masculinity. If you assume that women do something because they’re performing their femininity only for men, it follows that women wear makeup for men which isn’t true.” She feels that it’s incredibly important that we as a society shift ideas. 
“It’s time we open up who has access to femininity, who has access to beauty and makeup. Another part to it and frivolousness to it is that we never talked about hyper-masculinity but we talk about things that are so specific to women being as unimportant,” opined Alonzo.

When Ojo was quizzed on how does COVERGIRL determine who goes on the cover she said, “Every year the challenge for us is that how do we expand the definition of being a statement in culture about what beauty looks like. We really challenge ourselves when we chose our tribe of cover-girls which represent different faces, different undertones, features, etc so that different young women identify with them.”

Ojo believes that it’s very important to show people that beauty is ageless. ”We make sure we have age diversity. The idea of beauty can be youth-obsessed. We want to make sure you feel that the industry celebrates you,” she let out. She cited how her publication came up with a concept of vocational diversity to demonstrate more than just the looks of women. We wanted to expand the definition of beauty,” she said.

Alonzo opined that beauty products in the industry are not marketed in a way which is true to their spirit. “When you look at the ads of beauty products, even the way they’re marketed, it’s like they don’t hold the huge emotional sway that they actually do. It will say something basic like ‘get 90% more volume’. We don’t market them in a way that’s true to their spirit,” she opened up. For Issa Rae, Cover Girl Ambassador, Writer, Actress, it’s all about saying the truth. “I’d say tell the truth in everything you do. Authenticity is so key in this time. If there is no degree of earnestness in what you’re doing then it’s not for you,” she reasoned.

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Cannes Lions 2018: Steve Vranakis shows Google’s principles & beliefs through creativity

Two leaders from Google’s Creative Lab gave a peek behind-the-scenes at how creativity is driving what matters to Google

exchange4media Staff 22-June-2018

Creativity is characterised by the ability to perceive the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and to generate solutions. Steve Vranakis, Executive Creative Director, Google Creative Lab demonstrated the importance of creativity in building one of the world’s most valuable brands at a communications session titled 'What Creativity Can Do' at Cannes Lions 2018.

Vranakis discussed and displayed several of his noteworthy projects including Assembly of Youth, an installation at the UN’s General Assembly, and after visiting the camps in Lesvos in 2015, built a mobile information site ( to support Syrian refugees. “At Google, we believe in giving super powers to others. It is the people who will do things and not the other way around. We partnered with UNICEF for the project ‘Assembly of youth’, which used phones to bring the voices of children around the world directly to their representatives at the United Nations General Assembly. In conjunction with Unicef’s U-Report platform, the ‘Assembly of youth’ asked thousands of young people to share their hopes, fears and aspirations, and presented them to some of the world’s most influential people in a display in the atrium of the UN headquarters in New York. We are constantly helping people with our technology.”

He demonstrated a video on the launch of Project Bloks, a physical coding platform for children, and a Virtual Reality project that brings dinosaurs back to life in VR at the Natural History Museums of London and Berlin. “This gave us an opportunity to give out a strong message on impact, environment, endangered species, etc.,” he explained.

The session was joined by Robert Wong, VP - Google Creative Lab, who gave a peek behind-the-scenes at how creativity is driving what matters next to Google, its partners, and the billions of users it serves. He explained how a father opened a Gmail account for his new born daughter to whom he wrote an email everyday only to be read by her when she turned 16 years old. "Technology is what you make of it," he emphasised.

He displayed a video explaining the Google Lens, an image recognition mobile app designed to bring up relevant information using visual analysis. “There’s no limit to what creativity can do. Creative people are some of the best people on this planet to help reinvent the planet. Use creativity and imagination for a better future,” he concluded.

Combining best practices, technology with creativity to solve worldly issues - the session certainly left a lasting impression on the minds of the audience, and some even teary eyed.

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