The Glass magnet & why print feels small


Sandipan Bhattacharyya Cannes
One of the great things about living in these multi-platform, hyper-kinetic times is that ambition has become a lot more democratic. And, when brands encourage the concept of this democracy, one where every ambition is equal, it touches people and makes the brand more relevant to society. The 'Six-pack band' does exactly that. It's less about music and more about the transgender community's right to dream big and about giving them a new foothold in popular culture. Not just easing them into the social mainstream and consciousness, but doing it with a swagger. A well-deserved Grand Prix that firmly stamps India's dominance in the Glass Lions category for the second year in a row.In fact, India's brilliant haul in the category sparked off a lot of after-dinner conversations and I overheard an American delegate tell his Indian friend - 'You guys can build a nice glass house back home!' Quite a glass magnet we've become!

Looking through the winners across categories, one can't help but notice how small the print category really feels. In scale, in exposure and in its influence on popular culture when compared to some of the big ideas like 'The Swedish Number'. The latter is a brilliant tourism campaign that allowed anyone, anywhere in the world, to call a phone number in Sweden and talk directly to a Swede. It won the Grand Prix in direct marketing.

Maybe a silly analogy, but print's like the farthest planet in the advertising solar system and sort of gently drifting away. Threatening to become an irrelevant asteroid soon. It's perhaps the only remaining category where scam still thrives and where some metal winners are ads that no man or beast has ever seen before. But here's the thing; it gets the same reward. Not smaller, not lighter, but the same Lion. A point to ponder. Consider, even the print Grand Prix went to a multi-platform idea that was audacious and had the virality to cross over to other media. It was for Y&R's McWhopper, a campaign for Burger King that proposed combining the Big Mac and Whopper burgers.

Maybe that's the road map for print, if it has to stay relevant. A telling sign this year was the redefinition of the category to Print and Publishing with the intent of including some real creativity.

Another category that disappointed was the Radio Lions, where the winners just didn't seem to be medium-bending enough. It simply sounded more execution focused and a tad bit conventional.

Moving on to the talks and again, the past couple of days has seen an incredible line-up. Anna Wintour, fashion magazine Vogue's editor, coaxed clients to commission more audacious projects that grow over time and expand over different mediums. The big idea has the potential to pervade in today's clutter.

Will Smith, the Hollywood actor, spoke about how people can tell when you've considered them in your equation. In a fascinating analogy for brands, he said technology had killed cheating . Earlier, movies could 'cheat' you with fantastic trailers that showed only the best parts and the world wouldn't know how bad the movie really was till a good number of shows. Now, 10 minutes into a movie's first show, someone tweets 'This film is crap', and it's all over for you. People behave with brands pretty much the same way. There's no 'cheating' them.

Then there was Oliver Stone, the filmmaker, who had a riveting talk about his motivation behind Snowden - his new movie, and why good political drama should make you agitated, angry and frustrated. It should compel you to take sides. A lot like great creativity. Powerful ideas should make you take sides. Hopefully, the brand's side.
The author is chief creative officer, Grey Group India

First Published: Jun 23 2016 | 12:31 PM IST

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