Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity 2019: India's hunt for awards begins

The 66th edition of the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity will begin on Monday and India will go into the fest, which concludes Friday, with more body of work than that of last year.

Indian agencies have sent 1,053 entries this year, nearly 8 per cent higher than the number last year. While some agency heads said the entry of Publicis Groupe agencies after a year's sabbatical at Cannes is a contributing factor, others said the rise is a sign of the festival's importance.

“Globally, there are a number of ad award shows, but Cannes has its own appeal and is also amongst the most popular. I am not surprised that domestic agencies have sent more work this year. It is a celebration of creativity and most want to partake of it," said Piyush Pandey, chief creative officer, worldwide, Ogilvy. Pandey has followed Cannes closely over the years, as a delegate, juror, as well as an award winner. In 2018, he was conferred the Lion of St Mark, the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Cannes, along with his brother Prasoon. Pandey was the first from the WPP group to receive it.

Ogilvy's work for Hindustan Unilever's Hamam soap — where it created water-proof saris for women wishing to take a dip in the Ganges during the Kumbh Mela — has been shortlisted in the Glass Lion category in the current edition. This category rewards agencies for the work they undertake around social issues. 

“Clutter-breaking ideas always click. And, besides Ogilvy, I am also counting on Wunderman Thompson’s (formerly JWT) work for international photographer Jimmy Nelson to preserve indigenous cultures and tribes. The ad film titled 'Blink. And they’re gone', done by Senthil Kumar (chief creative officer of Wunderman Thompson India), captures the thought well. It shows a series of images of indigenous people, who disappear with a blink of an eye," said K V Sridhar, founder and chief creative officer, Hyper Collective.

Wunderman Thompson’s Blink campaign has already been shortlisted in the outdoor category along with McCann and Dentsu Impact. While two each of McCann and Dentsu Impact’s entries in outdoor have been shortlisted for awards, Wunderman has four entries of its Blink campaign in the fray. The Blink campaign has also been shortlisted in film craft.

Among other agencies, TBWA has six shortlists across healthcare, design and print and publishing categories. DDB Mudra and McCann have three and two shortlists respectively in print and publishing.Last year, India had won two Grand Prix trophies and 21 metals at the Cannes Ad Fest across categories such outdoor, glass, health care, print and publishing, direct marketing, and creative effectiveness. Metals is industry parlance for awards. While two Grand Prix Lions in a year was a first for the Indian contingent, the total metal count was lower than in 2017, when domestic ad agencies bagged a record 40 Lions.

Lower metals scorecard in 2018 was on account of a no-show in categories such as digital, film, public relations, and media. This year, however, domestic agencies have attempted to correct the imbalance by sending more entries in digital, media, and public relations in the hope of improving their strike rate.

Ashish Bhasin, chief executive officer, Dentsu Aegis Network, Greater South, and chairman and CEO, India, said digital work in the country has matured and can today compete with entries from foreign countries. 

“Digital is among the top three advertising categories in the country and it is well past its infancy. I think, digital agencies can make a mark and certainly attention will be there on how they do at the festival,” he said.

Quick facts

  • Cannes Ad Fest 2019 to be 5-day event second year in row; was an 8-day fest till 2017
  • There are 30,953 entries from 89 countries - drop of 4% over last year. But Indian entries up 8% year-on-year
  • Publicis Groupe including creative agencies Leo Burnett, BBH and Saatchi & Saatchi, media agencies Zenith and Starcom and digital agency Sapient-Razorfish are back after a year's break
  • Two new categories have been introduced — Creative Strategy Lions and Entertainment Lions for Sport 

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