Cannes We? We Can!

India's advertising industry is still to perform to its full potential at the grand global jamboree

Cannes We? We Can!

K V Sridhar
As the sixty-third edition of the Cannes Advertising Festival gets going this week, I introspect to ascertain the mark Indian advertising has made so far. My thoughts go back to the foundation laid and the status quo that we now see. The early 2000s, for instance, saw Piyush Pandey as jury chairman at Cannes, a big moment for Indian advertising. The year was 2002.

India won its first Grand Prix in 2008 for the 'Lead India campaign' (for Times of India). The credit goes to Agnello Dias of Taproot. The third big moment of celebration was BBDO India's 'Touch the pickle' campaign for Procter & Gamble's Whisper. Adman Josy Paul and his team had brought home the first Glass Grand Prix in its inaugural year. This was last year. Can India consolidate on these past gains and win big this year?

If we look at our performance over the last six years, we stand a chance of taking home around 22 metals this year; a figure which most of us feel is respectable. But if we compare our wins to those of competing nations like Latin America (Brazil to be precise), US, UK, Australia, Japan and even the Gulf countries, the gap is significant. They have a higher number of metals and better work to show.

For a country our size - among the world's most populous, whose consumption story is second to only China - our wins at Cannes don't quite reflect the true picture. Also, we send around 1,500 entries every year to Cannes, more than most competing nations, Brazil included. But our conversion ratio is negligible in contrast. Which clearly means we haven't capitalised on our strengths, our talent pool. Also, we tend to draw a blank in emerging segments such as mobile, digital, technology and innovation. Countries such as Brazil and Australia, smaller in size, do better than us in these categories. Fingers crossed this year.

Having said that, there are quite a few campaigns that show promise. 'Beauty tips by Reshma', Ogilvy's poignant campaign on ending acid attacks is among my favourites. It is a bold attempt at highlighting an issue which has already won a D&AD award, one of the most prestigious in the advertising world.

Another one, 'God save the ocean' campaign by Ogilvy, made for a Mumbai-based NGO called Sprouts Environment Trust is brilliant too. It speaks of fighting against the toxins generated by Ganesh idols when immersed every year in the ocean. The campaign attempts to create awareness about environmentally-friendly Ganesh idols made out of organic food ingredients which can be used to feed fish too.

'The giant's story' for Ambuja Cement featuring wrestler Khali and the British Airways campaign 'Fuelled by love' are among my other favourites. The latter shows the bond between a British Airways' airhostess and an Indian woman, a senior citizen, travelling back home to India, beautifully. Some more include Bajaj's INS Vikrant, a brilliant out-of-home campaign done for the Indian Outdoor Association by Taproot. Skymet, the private weather forecaster, has launched its campaign #helpthefarmer, which aims at curbing farmer suicides by accurately predicting weather conditions. Another campaign called 'Stop acid attacks' by Cheil India encourages face donations to victims. Volkswagen recently launched its digital-only film 'Ode to the bug' which aims at promoting the 21st century Beetle in the country. A probable winner in my view.

A couple of pieces in design too stand a chance of winning at Cannes this year. There is this book designed by Alok Nanda & Company called 'Painful People'. It is beautifully illustrated and there's a great chance it might win in design or illustration at Cannes. Design done in print advertising by Taproot for Nerolac 3D Paints is also elegant.
K V Sridhar
Chief creative officer, India, SapientNitro

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First Published: Jun 19 2016 | 10:13 PM IST

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