Anil Thakraney: Yes, We Cannes!

24 Jun,2012

By Anil Thakraney


I have been to Cannes just once, and this was in the year 2000. To represent the ad mag I was editing at the time. I have many interesting memories of that trip, but the one that stands out is this: While I did run into quite a few eager desi ad men and women, India did not win a single award. In fact, the scenario was so bad, global ad gurus and the fest organizers would treat Indian journos with the same degree of respect as those from Eastern Europe. Okay, perhaps slightly better. And this made even a simple thing like obtaining interviews with the ad biggies a Herculean task.


I am happy to discover that in the interim period a lot has changed. While India may still not be setting Cannes on fire, our creative directors do return with a decent number of trophies. This was inconceivable in the year 2000. I am particularly pleased that the Mumbai Mirror TV commercial scored a Gold. Not only because I have worked for that newspaper in the past, but also because I recall giving the ad very high marks in the review I did for mxmindia. This is a clear indication that the ad frat must take my ad reviews very seriously… the Cannes jury gets influenced by them, hehe.


So then how did India turn the corner in the last decade? I would say there are three reasons: In the last few years, thanks to the economic boom and the efforts of some filmmakers (most specifically, Sir Danny Boyle), the India story has become interesting for the goras. They want to know more about us, we excite them now. This also means that the jury members now pay more attention to the Indian approach to advertising, they try hard to get our culture. Plus having more desi judges out there helps. All this then results in a better strike rate.


Second, the quality of our ‘creamy layer’ work has gone up in the last ten years. And I use the phrase creamy layer because 90 per cent of the mass advertising continues to be bollocks, and this is the case with the rest of the world too. But we have significantly improved on our good work. I also think some of our creative directors and ad filmmakers are paying a lot more attention to execution, a very important reason behind our increasing medals tally.


But most importantly, the clients have evolved in the last decade. Many of them want to push the envelope, they want to innovate; they don’t mind taking risks. This has naturally helped matters a lot. This was not the case in the past. Back in the bad old days, one was paid to do safe work, and risk takers used to be punished.


Maybe I will visit Cannes next year, it’s the right time. Think I will be given as much bhav as the American and the Brit journos. 🙂


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PS: Interesting blogpost on the biggest advertising lies. Lies that get bandied around so often, they become truths. Here’s exploding some popular myths.




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