Rich haul at Cannes

Indian ad agencies are learning the art of story-telling


Business Standard Editorial Comment New Delhi
Many have questioned the relevance of the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, particularly for Indian advertising agencies which have to pay through their nose to participate in the annual extravaganza in south of France. A few have even said Cannes is nothing but a self-created indulgence and is the equivalent of a selfie. That may be too harsh a judgment as nobody, not even its worst critics, can deny that a successful campaign at Cannes, which was attended by more than 13,500 delegates from 90 countries this year, gets bathed in international spotlight and leads to instant recognition of the brand. And on top of all that, clients feel gratified that their brands are in safe hands. In that context, Indian advertising agencies had a successful outing at the 63rd edition of the festival this year, bagging 27 metals (industry parlance for awards) - more than double its 2015 tally, but with fewer entries. Though the number was less than 33 metals in the 2013 edition, what made this year special was a Grand Prix in the "glass" category, the second in a row for India, and the title of the "Agency of the Year" in health care, the first for an Indian agency at Cannes. Indian agencies have clearly learnt the art of converting shortlists into metals.

This is good news for an industry that is expected to touch Rs 61,200 crore in 2016. IPG Mediabrands India, part of Interpublic Group, says India has made it to the top 10 list in terms of advertising expenditure by value, and is expected to become the sixth largest advertising market by 2020. Though the agency has revised its forecast for advertising spends growth in India in 2016 to 16.2 per cent, down from 18.4 per cent it had predicted in December 2015, this is only to be expected in a year when global advertising industry growth rates have shrunk because of the slowdown. What is encouraging is that digital formats, which are supposed to be the drivers of the future, are expected to record the highest growth of 40 per cent this year in India.

One of the takeaways from the Cannes festival this year is that aided by digital platforms like Facebook and Youtube, it is increasingly the short film that is being seen by most audiences. For instance, the top award went to a commercial of British department store Harvey Nichols that starts with real security camera footage of shoplifters pinching clothes, jewellery and perfume from the company's flagship store, and how they are chased and caught. Going by the winning advertisements India produced this year, it is clear that the Indian advertising fraternity has also broken this barrier of not being able to think beyond 30-second spots. Consider some of the award-winning campaigns, which touched upon the problems of Indian society. The Dads #ShareTheLoad campaign by BBDO India shows an Indian father starting to help the mother do laundry after seeing his daughter - a working mother - doing household chores and O&M's "Beauty Tips by Reshma" showed a real-life acid attack victim giving make-up tutorials. What got Medulla the Agency of the Year title was its campaign "Last Words", which shows working and retired nurses recounting the last words of their dying patients. Grabbing the consumer's attention is becoming an increasingly difficult task irrespective of the geography of the market, and it is heartening to see that Indian advertising agencies are quick learners.

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First Published: Jun 28 2016 | 9:41 PM IST

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