Kyoorius about Digital & D&AD: Interviews with Laura Jordan Bambach & Tim Lindsay

03 Dec,2013

Laura Jordan Bambach and Tim Lindsay with Rajesh Kejriwal, CEO and founder, Kyoorius


Laura Jordan Bambach, Executive Creative Director of Mr. President and president of D&AD, and Tim Lindsay, CEO, D&AD,  were in Delhi and Mumbai last week for Kyoorius FYIdays and to evangelise the D&AD awards. The Kyoorius FYIdays is going to be held on a regular basis, presented by &pictures in partnership with CNBC-TV18’s Storyboard (Disclosure: MxMIndia is a media partner of the event).  The 100-plus audience in both cities (who paid Rs 1500+taxes) to get there is testimony to the success of the effort.  Good content ensures good, interested crowds, says Rajesh Kejriwal, founder-CEO, Kyoorius, matter-of-factly. Pradyuman Maheshwari and Johnson Napier caught up with Ms Bambach and Mr Lindsay at the Mumbai leg of Kyoorius FYIdays and a D&AD-hosted evening for the ad frat.


It’s harder to win a D&AD award than any other award: Tim Lindsay With 4G, I hope to see a real shift to digital: Laura Jordan Bambach
D&AD needs no introduction to the creative fraternity in India. But, as with the craft that it evangelises, the only way to move ahead is to refresh and grow. Earlier this year, it inked an agreement with design specialists Kyoorius to conduct the Kyoorius Awards. And now D&AD has yet again partnered with the Rajesh Kejriwal-led Kyoorius to promote the coveted D&AD awards.

Tim Lindsay, CEO, D&AD was in Delhi and Mumbai to meet with the industry and reaffirm its commitment to give back to the industry, especially the young, in terms of providing quality training and education. Lindsay underscores the difference that D&AD brings to the table as a not-for-profit initiative.


We hear D&AD has big plans for India

Yes we do have big and important plans for India. We are not going to get everything done overnight; it’ll take us some time.


But India is Cannes-country

Well, everyone is a Cannes-country but we are different from Cannes. If I could put it crudely, the money that we generate we put it back in the industry mainly supporting new creative talent coming into the industry. While Cannes is a wonderful effort – and I love going there –it takes money out of the industry and invests little through training, seminars etc but D&AD is there to stimulate support and inspire creative excellence.


It’s not that D&AD is new to Indian creatives. You’ve been getting a fair number of entries for your awards. So what’s going to be different?

Yes we have been getting entries from here. Where India is concerned I’d like to share some personal experience here: I used to be president of Lowe Worldwide and while Lowe and Lintas were going through that global merger and when I was coming here in India for the Board meetings, i started to get a very healthy respect for high quality of Indian advertising particularly the stuff that was intended to change behaviour of a product…but given the level of talent and quality of work from design and advertising I think India is under-represented at D&AD so we would like more D&AD jurors, we would like more entries from India…


R Balki, you know, doesn’t send entries to awards. Will you convince him to take part in your award show?

I doubt that will happen but I have a healthy respect for his standard of work. The work that they have done for Lifebuoy is fantastic.


What’s the one thing that should convince the fraternity to send in more entries to D&AD

D&AD operates at a number of levels. In terms of the awards, it is the global yardstick for creative excellence. We are not ashamed to say that it is harder to win a D&AD award than any other award; the quality and integrity of the judging process at D&AD is better than any other awards show and what makes that the case is the quality of jurors that we have. We have around 200 fantastic people from around the world and about 60 per cent from outside the UK… so to be awarded a Pencil and be judged by that set of people is a huge accolade. The more important thing is that we reinvest all the money we make from our award show and the commercial activities. And because our awards income, which is the main part of our revenue, comes from all over the world including India we want to support creative industries in those places from where we derive our income.


So from the entries that you have been getting from India thus far, have you reinvested in India?

Not in the direct sense but more in terms of setting a standard and being an inspiration to the creative industry we have. But we have made some changes in the last 2-3 years where we have a D&AD Foundation and we want to spend the money we make in the most effective way to support creative excellence around the world. Also, there are key centres of excellence and India is in the process of becoming a great creative superpower of the future.


In terms of the number of entries, what is the growth that you expect from last year?

Through our partnership with Kyoorius and because of the footprint they have in the design and advertising industry, we would certainly help raising awareness of D&AD and that will certainly help having a positive impact on the awards entries. We should be happy to get over 500 entries as a start this year.


The Indian ad industry has been faced with two issues for long: one is scam ads and the other one is plagiarism. How do you handle that at D&AD?

The plagiarism thing is easier to answer. A lot of ideas get borrowed and sometimes ideas come up simultaneously in different places and have no connection with each other. What we do to tackle plagiarism is we choose the jurors and we do not interfere in any way and they make their own decisions. Also, at D&AD we do not have to give an award to any category so usually we do not give awards in 2-3 categories because the jury does not find the standard of work high enough.


Scam advertising is a completely different thing. The questions we ask are: is it for a real brand, is it for a real client brief, did it run (in case of advertising), did it sell (in case of design) and did the client pay for it. The things that we think are not right we research and if the jury expresses any doubt on a piece of work,  we check it out further. I think the level of awards for scam ads has gone down in the past 5-7 years because the shows have been more stringent and systematic about checking things out.


Does the D&AD award show also entertain creative entries from media agencies?

The twin-core of D&AD when it started was advertising and graphic design and it has expanded to include other digital categories and also product design, retail design etc.


What has been your experience with the Kyoorius Design Awards this year?

I have only heard good things about the Design Yatra and I think we can surely help as we know how to run an awards show be it the entries, judging process etc we can only make it a smooth affair. I am sure that it would grow only further.


Would you like to look at organising an advertising award here in India?

Yes, certainly. We want to.


How soon?

It is still early days to talk about that.


Laura Jordan Bambach has been to India before, but so impressed was she in her last visit to the Kyoorius Designyatra, that she chose to come in for the inaugural Kyoorius FYIdays initiative held in Delhi and Mumbai.

Bambach, Executive Creative Director of Mr. President and current president of D&AD, spoke on how brands can survive in a digital world. To drive home the point, Bambach provided examples and ideas that companies could adopt to make their way into the hearts of their consumers.


MxMIndia caught up with the digital diva and got her to share experiences and digital mantras that brands can be adopted here in India. That, and also the possibility of getting her agency Mr. President to launch operations in India. Excerpts:


There’s so much being said about how digital is changing the way companies are going about doing their business. Is it for real? Is digital really as big as we think it is? Or just a lot of talk and less action?

I think in terms of the actual consumer behaviour and in terms of the changes it brings about in the society ,it is very real and also very powerful. I think what entities like Twitter and others have done is that they have changed the equation between consumers and brands. If you love a brand, you almost expect to be a fan of the brand and you expect the brand to participate in the conversation and communication that happen on the platform…


But ‘likes’ are not necessarily a true indicator of what’s going on out there, is it?

Yes it’s not but if someone has a like on Facebook and if they are a real fan of the brand and if they are really talking to you about things that they find interesting and you are building a community then it’s great. Like, for example, I worked on a big project for a telecommunications company and they did a fantastic television commercial where you could chose the outcome for the main characters involved on Facebook…they ended up getting around 1 million likes because the story was really engaging for people watching the television ad. But they found it impossible to translate that into conversation for brands because the people that liked the television ad aren’t necessarily the same people that buy their products so it’s not used in the right way as it should.


One of the reasons that there is not much work happening on digital is because agencies work on commissions. And while they make more money from television commercials which they can’t out of work on digital. Do you think this is the reason why there isn’t much evangelisation of the medium and there’s not much quality original creative work?

I think what you’ve said is right and the budgets we have to work with for a digital campaign compared to those for television commercials always shock us, but I think there are great examples of integrated work where big budgets are going towards connected campaigns with social and digital thinking being at the heart of it.


While we talk of integrated work the reality is that most of the work is being done for the medium of television which is then redirected to digital…

It’s the common way of doing things, but it is the wrong way. If you can unlock the digital strategy first and not the medium then it could work. So it does not matter what medium it is expressed in but I think having a digital strategy at the heart of a brand is what is going to make it more successful.


So we shouldn’t feel too bad about the state of digital affairs here in India. It’s essentially the same problems that are faced in the more developed markets like Europe as faced here.

Yes, it’s kind of the same but we shouldn’t feel too bad about it.


Is it also an issue of talent, especially in digital agencies that are not able to find good talent…

Sometimes you need to have the good old-fashioned thinkers and planners, which is not impossible to find. There are plenty of agencies out there who are more digital-centric and who have great talent to handle everything.


What is your view on the kind of work that gets produced out of India?

In general I think the work out of here is just fantastic. Digitally I think we are not seeing loads of work atleast at D&AD from India. I think with the rollout of 4G internationally I am hoping to see a real shift to digital…


Talk of performance at award shows and India has put up a bad show where digital is concerned be it at Cannes, Spikes or the recent Digital Fest. What according to you should the agencies be doing to spruce up their digital tally?

What I have observed elsewhere from small agencies is that it takes a disruption between the agency-client process. You will find some really good integrated digital work coming out of countries like New Zealand and Australia and it has to do with their attitude of being different.


But given that India has long history of storytelling and folklore still doesn’t put us up there in terms of creative wizardry…

Yes I agree. I think India’s design work is comparable to some of the best that there is…even traditional advertising. It’s just the digital category has not produced enough top-notch work as yet…


If you were to offer pointers for marketers or agencies on what the approach they should have towards digital, what would they be?

Firstly, they need to find stories that people want to hear not what they want to tell. Also, how you launch something is also important as what you launch so you need to have a good strategy on how you are going to do that. Be brave; look two things at social for – insight and inspiration. Digital agencies need to channelize their focus on strategy as if they are to become big in the future then they should have proper strategic direction or else they’ll end up becoming production houses.


Lastly, when do we see Mr. President in India?

Yes, we are working in that direction but I cannot disclose the finer points on who is going to be our partner or things like that. But it’ll happen very soon.


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