Picking Cannes Lions entries is all about homework and trust in one’s own work: Panel

The esteemed panel also discussed the importance of having the right case studies in place before sending in the entries for Cannes and need to have a separate fund in place for the same

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Jun 21, 2021 8:51 AM  | 5 min read

It’s not easy being an Indian campaign in a sea of splendid international work, awaiting to win arguably the biggest honour one could get, the Cannes Lion. There is a lot of “western bias” that’s there within the jury, and a heightened pressure on Indian case studies to stand out, opined the esteemed panel at exchange4media’s virtual round panel while discussing what goes behind selecting an agency’s best bets at Cannes Lions. 

Present on the panel were Amit Akali, Co-Founder and Creative Chief at Wondrlab; Mukund Olety, CCO at VMLY&R; Sumanto Chattopadhyay, Chairman and CCO at 82.5 Communications; Anupama Ramaswamy, Managing Partner and National Creative Director, Dentsu Impact; and Keigan Pinto, CCO at FCB Ulka. The panel was moderated by exchange4media Sr Correspondent Mansi Sharma. 

Pinto said that the weeks before submitting the entries are often stressful because there is a lot of good work to go through and one doesn’t want to go wrong about it. 

Olety, on the other hand, noted that creating the work is a stressful thing but not sending it for awards. “The best work will shine through no matter how many pieces you compare it with. If you are proud of what you have created, it becomes easier to pick the final entries.” 

Ramaswamy noted, “We follow just one basic thing, i.e, lots of homework before we settle down on which entries are to be sent and what are the right categories of them. Having a good grip on what has traditionally been working really helps the case.” 

Chattopadhyay further added that while picking up the right campaigns is not always a challenge, sometimes people within the team start feeling left out, which could be stressful. “People might think we are favouring one team over another or sometimes people are overconfident because of their past wins. All of that could be a little difficult to work through.”  

Akali highlighted that the creative committees that most of the big agency networks have could be a great help in such cases, while most independent agencies and smaller networks have to manage on their own. “We had a pretty great creative committee at Grey and that really helped us in picking the right options and polishing them for final submissions.” 

Olety also noted that figuring out the right categories could get a little taxing as Cannes have leaned down the categories with such finesse, into various subcategories, that one could get really confused about it. 

However, the panel lauded how Cannes Lions, over the years, has set forward a unique tradition of leading the agency by creating unique categories. 

Akali said, “We have started talking about integration now, but Cannes Lions has had that category for more than a decade now. Same with the social influencers category. I feel they have been leading the culture instead of following it.”  

Pinot added, “It’s beautiful how they are refining the sub-categories every year, though I sometimes wonder if it is just a capitalistic ploy. But there are sections like the dignity of labour etc, that is really welcome addition.” 

The panel also discussed the importance of having the right case studies in place before sending in the entries for Cannes. They highlighted the need to have a separate fund in place that can help them create relevant and pathbreaking case studies, which is not present in most agencies. 

Ramaswamy quipped, “The issue with Indian case studies is two-folds, one we like to talk a lot. But when someone is judging so many entries, you have to come to the point as quick as you can or you will bore the jury. Secondly, we are not presenting our case studies well. We don’t spend enough time on them. Our attitude is like ‘ho jaega’ (it’ll me managed.)”

Chattopadhyay added that along with being well written and presented, it is important to make them creative as well. He shared one example, “We did one campaign for a brand, the core message was to save paper. Our solution was to fold any paper in half and just use one half of it, say, to send bills. When we presented that case study, we folded the screen into half, meaning half of it was black while our presentation went on the other half. That bode well for us.” 

The panel also touched upon the need to make Indian work more visible to international audiences to cut the “western bias” a little. However, they couldn’t have a proper solution for it. 

Ramaswamy said, “We could always rely on the media and have a robust PR and corp comm setup. But at the same time, that doesn’t necessarily mean that people will end up seeing it. I mean so many times we skip watching international work because of so many barriers.” 

Pinto quipped, “I am not sure about having a PR machinery to promote our work. I feel it could beat the purpose of us having created campaigns that can go viral. But I also understand that a Hindi campaign couldn’t always go viral in non-Hindi speaking countries.” 

The panel concluded that Indian agencies are slowly getting over all these barriers but it is also the responsibility of the jury representatives from the country to take a better stand for our campaigns and explain the context as and when needed.

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