'We are very good at creativity in India and our campaigns are of global standard'

Ishteyaque Amjad, VP, Public Affairs, Communications & Sustainability, Coca Cola, India says the 'Sustainable Development Goals' category is one where India has real potential to perform in

e4m by Neeta Nair
Updated: Jun 7, 2019 8:40 AM
Ishteyaque Amjad

He is judging a relatively new category -- Sustainable Development Goals where India had three shortlists last year, none of which converted into a metal, but Ishteyaque Amjad, Vice President – Public Affairs, Communications & Sustainability, Coca Cola, India says that is one category where India has real potential to perform in.

What do you think about India’s chances in this category? Last year we had three shortlists but none of them converted into a metal.

Across the world Coca Cola has been doing campaigns on social issues such as, when Saudi Arabia for the first time allowed women the right to drive, we ran a very strong brand campaign, then to combat the Islamophobia in Europe there was a campaign showing a Muslim girl and a non-Muslim girl coming together for breaking their fast during Iftaar.

In India, we have a bit of a blurred line on social issues and the creative campaigns that we do for brands. Of course, there are times when brands stand up for a cause like 'Sindoor Khela' by Times of India which was a social campaign at the end of the day. The question is that how do they really go and approach an event like Cannes Lions, because not many of them would typically address this under Sustainable Development Goals as the category is still evolving, it is just the second or third year of it being included in the Cannes. So, many of those campaigns that can fit here would typically land up in the PR or some of those spaces. I think it is going to take a little while for this to settle. But once it does India, because of its diversity and opportunities to bring in social changes. would have more and more entries that would come under this category and then we would stand a better chance at winning.

What is it that you found Indian entries lacking in, the last time?

One thing which we have sort of underplayed is the impact of our entries. Anything that we do in India has the propensity to reach a large number of people, because of the sheer fact that we have a very large population here. Number two, we are by design a very understated, conservative, modest society, so unlike many of our western counterparts, we do not package or present or communicate our entries for what it’s really worth. For e.g. A campaign coming from Europe based on a city which has very limited reach but has had some good impact on society or target audience would be presented as an earth-shattering campaign by the agency there. In India, each of our states is like a country and India by itself is almost like a continent. And we tend to underplay the accomplishment of a campaign in India which has reached the cross section of people. That is something that has not worked for us. On the positive side, we are very good at creativity, our campaigns are of global standard and in some cases, I find it even leading the pack.

Overall entries to Cannes fell by a fifth last year, do you think Cannes is becoming an expensive affair for the agencies and what can we do to make sure creativity gets its due?

We will have to be little more creative in that also. While the agencies sponsor and send their entries, can there be an opportunity where the agency and the client work together and say, ‘This is something we strongly believe in.’ The reality is that, for example, if a particular campaign wins a metal or a Grand Prix, it is actually the brand that gets the maximum visibility and much more than the agency. So, I think it may not be a bad idea for people to collaborate especially when they strongly believe that this is something that is worth its position, and thus why not jointly pitch for it at the awards.

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