Glory eludes India @Cannes Lions 2012

25 Jun,2012


By A Correspondent


1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an Annus Horribilis. Thus spoke Queen Elizabeth II describing the year that was quite horrible for the British royal family. Now as the world celebrates 60 years of her Accession, the Latin phrase could be used for India’s performance at the Cannes Lions.


Now that the 7-day grand creative festival has come to a close in the south of France, agencies that have emerged tall and triumphant from across the globe will be heading back to their respective continents to kick off celebrations.


And that we guess India will miss out on, as the contingent make its way back home. Some have done so already as you read this. The boardrooms, bars and smokers’ areas will be busy as a new week commences with agencies trying to figure out what exactly went wrong. Or perhaps what didn’t go right. Some obvious questions that’ll come up for scrutiny are whether agencies have become too complacent and are taking their creative skills for granted or whether other countries have simply outsmarted India in the game of creative one upmanship.


Few doubt the creative aptitude India possesses, having given a tough time to most agencies in the past but 2012 could easily be billed as the worst year thus far – just 14 metals in kitty when the number of entries that were sent were the highest at 1,182.


Even in a dry year like 2008 where India had sent only 982 entries, the total metal count stood at 23. The only bad year was 2007 where India bagged just 12 metals but then one expects performances to see an upward spike year-on-year and not the other way round. It will be interesting to see the kind of reactions that emerge from the entrant companies in the ensuing days.


Though it was a forgettable year for India , there were some agencies that shone bright and whose entries managed to win a few metals. Those that were hopeful of a win did just that and came back lapping up either Gold, Silver or Bronze in the respective categories. Mentos Sour Marbles by Ogilvy & Mather continued its winning spree across festivals as it bagged a bronze in the Press Lions category.


Another sureshot that bagged India its metal was an entry by Leo Burnett for its client Bajaj Electricals for their exhaust fans. The team of KV Sridhar and Nitesh Tiwari carried on with their winning spree bagging Silver in the Press Lions category.


In fact, the team of Leo Burnett carried on with their rich display by picking up a Media Lion Silver for its Doorstep School campaign in the Best Localised Campaign category.  Another entry from India that was sure of a win was Cheil Worldwide’s campaign for Samsung Printers. The work bagged a Media Lion Silver in Best Use of Integrated Media in Media Lions. BBDO India’s You Shave, I shave campaign for Gillette continued with its winning streak as it bagged a Bronze in the Media Lions category.


While those that were touted to win did just that, it was the Gold winners that were the talk among the delegates at the Cannes Lions festival. The tally was opened by McCann Worldgroup which won an Outdoor Lions Gold for its client Western Union.


An elated Prasoon collected the coveted prize on the dais. DDB Mudra’s ‘The Hinglish Project’ for Ministry of Tourism, Government of India was another Gold winner as it bagged the metal in the Design Lions category. The same project also won a bronze in the same category.


Abhinay Deo

The third Gold winner was the entry ‘I am Mumbai’ that was entered by Ramesh Deo Productions and the advertising agency for which was Taproot India . Abhinay Deo, on bagging the award, said: “There is no thumb rule for success. All I can say is that one has to be honest to his craft. Never make a film to win an award be it Cannes or any other, because then you surely won’t.”


Failures Unlimited

While that was about the winners, the conversation that dominated the festival during the latter half was the lack of wins by India across categories. The discussion was compounded by India failing to make the shortlist across categories too. India would definitely want to forget its showing in the Mobile Lions & Cyber Lions category where it didn’t manage a single shortlist.


Even categories like Film Craft, Creative Effectiveness, Branded Content & Entertainment put up a poor show by bagging just a handful of nominations. In comparison, categories like Radio and PR performed better with the shortlisted entries in either of them going on to win metals.


In fact, the categories where India had the maximum number of shortlisted entries like Press and Outdoor too were failures as the conversion rate averaged about 10 per cent or so for each of them. Titanium & Integrated continued to elude the Indian contingent of bagging any metal.


KV Sridhar

The overall grim mood at the festival was highlighted by KV Sridhar, NCD, Leo Burnett India : “We are extremely satisfied with Leo Burnett’s performance at Cannes this year; getting three Lions is not an everyday event. The only disheartening thing being that India’s overall performance this year wasn’t gratifying. I think we need to push ourselves a little more to do well in such awards, because at the end of the day it’s not about how good your work is, but about how much better the world is performing than you.”


Said Pratap Bose, COO, DDB Mudra Group, whose agency did win some big awards but not as many as they had hoped: “At the end of the day, as DDB Mudra, we were more hopeful as we did get 21 shortlists. Though this is an extended India problem as well. We did bag a Gold and that compensated a little. The standard to which the world has risen surpasses India to a very great extent hence India has got a lot of catching up to do. To sum it all, we are quite disheartened with the overall performance.”


Pratap Bose

Mr Bose’s comments on the creative standard of other agencies around the world rising to surpass India may all but be true. Why else would entries that stood a high chance of bagging a metal miss out on winning one? DDB Mudra’s work for Stedfast, Volkswagen and GeeBees Beverages were all assured of a win but sadly missed up winning any.


Chaplin Chapters & Google Chrome by BBH India , Keeping the Legend Alive by McCann Worldgroup, Parle Agro by Creativeland Asia and A Day in the Life of India by Taproot were other worthy entrants too but were skipped for the sake of others that were found to be more deserving.


Manish Bhatt

Manish Bhatt, Founder-Director, Scarecrow and a jury member for Cannes, 2012, said, “I would say that winning at Cannes has a lot to do with probability, so many factors can work for or against a piece of work during the judging process. Also with my interactions with other jury members, I got a feel that many felt that while there is no disputing Indian creativity but the viability of that idea on various medium is restricted. As creativity is being redefined, there is a need to bring on an idea that can work on multiple platform. There is also a need to bring in more interactivity in our entries as thats what the judges are looking for.”


Perhaps, it’s time for India to stop being looked upon as the ‘favourite’ one and for more creative ideas to spawn if we have to make a rousing comeback in 2013.


We could then look forward to a wonderful year… Annus Mirabilis may be


With inputs from Shubhangi Mehta, Tuhina Anand and Meghna Sharma


Cannes Lions 2012 Winning Entrant




Bacardi India


BBDO India


Cheil Worldwide


DDB Mudra



Leo Burnett



McCann Worldgroup


Ogilvy India


Ramesh Deo Productions


In alphabetical order of agency names


Imaging: Rafiq

Photograph of Abhinay Deo: Fotocorp


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