Cannes Lion: The annual Oscars of advertising is here

Medulla Communications team with 'Healthcare Agency of the Year' title at Cannes Lions
Widely considered the world’s biggest stage for creativity in advertising, communication design, consumer technology and product innovations over the last few years, the sixty-fourth edition of the Cannes Lions festival hits the French Riviera this week. May the best ideas win the elusive Grand Prix and coveted Gold Lions this year. How many of those will be of Indian origin is a week long wait and watch.


The world’s best creative artists, writers, art directors, designers, marketing magicians, communication gurus, film-makers, entertainers and speakers are here from over a 100 countries to find out where the industry is heading and what ideas will shape our future. The Cannes Lion is recognised the world over as the ultimate creative accolade and a shining symbol of industry shaping work.


Senthil Kumar
Last year, India won four gold, eight silver, and 16 bronze Lions, including two Glass Lions, one Grand Prix and ‘Healthcare Agency of the Year’ award. India was awarded the Grand Prix in Glass Lions category for the second time in a row last year, but the biggest one of them all was ‘Healthcare Agency of the Year’ title for the Akali brothers from Medulla Communications.


As I write this piece, the winners of the Lions Health, which precedes the mainline festival, will be declared. McCann, Medulla, Taproot and Ogilvy have opened the account for India in this category (with 13 metals and a Grand Prix).


Also, Leo Burnett India (for ‘Roads that Honk’ for HP Lubricants) has been shortlisted among 35 chosen ideas in the Innovation Lions category.  Will this idea win India’s first Innovation Lion on the world stage? It entirely depends on the kind of traction this idea gathers over the week and the presentations made by the team. Over a billion Indians will honk and root for the idea, but how many jury members will is the big question.



While the awards are a key aspect of Cannes, there are some interesting sessions too during the week. This year's Cannes Debate, hosted by WPP's Martin Sorrell, which focuses on the intersecting worlds of sport, cinema and marketing communications, is one such. Sharing the stage with him will be Ron Howard, Academy Award winning film-maker and Robert Kraft, founder of The Kraft Group.


This is not all. Delegates will most likely collect keynotes from an eclectic mix of speakers like Ray Kurzweil (inventor, author and futurist), Simon Le Bon (lead singer, Duran Duran), Helen Mirren (actor) and Lydia Polgreen (editor-in-chief, The Huffington Post).


They will also get a chance to meet Nobel peace prize winner and President of the Republic of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos, as he joins Weber Shandwick’s Jack Leslie to explore lessons learned from the Colombian civil war and resultant peace treaty, and give us lessons on how to tackle the world’s toughest brief – PEACE.


There is also Oscar-winning star Helen Mirren as she joins L'Oréal to deliberate redefining diversity. And Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, who will join Maurice Lévy, chairman of Publicis Groupe, to ask whether creativity can change the world ?


And write this down: Don’t miss the Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors’ Showcase for anything. As for me, I will be waking up early and watch this showcase of the newest, brightest, mind-boggling directorial talent in the world.


The week also includes China Day, a one-day programme of talks dedicated to Chinese innovation and creativity, which is scheduled for June 20. Wonder when we will have an ‘INDIA DAY’ at ‘The Mecca of Advertising’. While I leave this to our senior-most Indian legends to work out, and maybe next year we will see Indians make a mark at this festival in more ways, let’s wish every Indian idea here the best for this year’s Lion Hunt. The author is chief creative officer of J Walter Thompson India

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