HUL or P&G India: Who will win the race at Cannes remains a question

In the past few years, both P&G and HUL have won big at Cannes, picking up Grand Prix and golds
They are fierce rivals in consumer goods and are now fighting for glory at the biggest advertising show — Cannes Ad Fest. Campaigns of Hindustan Unilever (HUL) and Proctor & Gamble (P&G) India have left a mark at the festival this year, picking up crucial metals in the process. Metals is industry parlance for awards.

P&G’s work for Gillette and Vicks have each bagged a silver and bronze lion, respectively, at Cannes, while HUL has picked up two silvers and a bronze lion for Lifebuoy. In addition, HUL’s work for Hamam soap at this year’s Kumbh Mela, where it provided waterproof sarees to female pilgrims, is the only shortlist from India in the coveted glass category. Glass lions reward agencies for the work they do around social issues. The winners will be declared on Friday. “Both HUL and P&G are among the largest advertisers in the country and their competitive spirit extends to the Cannes Ad Fest as well,” says K S Chakravarty, an advertising veteran, who is now the co-founder and chief creative officer of digital agency Tidal7. Of the 12 lions that the Indian contingent has taken home in the first three days of the festival, five have been bagged by agencies working on brands of HUL and P&G. In percentage terms, this works out to nearly 42 per cent of the metals tally that has been cornered by these two companies alone

While none of the two majors has so far bagged either a Grand Prix or gold for their campaigns, experts say the last two days could be a deciding factor. In addition to the glass lions, winners for categories such as film and brand experience and activation will be declared over the next two days. P&G has a shortlisted campaign for Vicks in the film lions’ category, while HUL’s work for Haman soap has been shortlisted in brand experience and activation in addition to the glass lions.

In the past few years, both P&G and HUL have won big at Cannes, picking up Grand Prix and golds for campaigns such as Share the load for Ariel and Touch the pickle for Whisper (both in 2015 for P&G) and 6 Pack Band for HUL’s Brooke Bond Red Label in 2016. Extensions of these campaigns had won in 2017, though 2018 was a year when rival ITC struck it big for its Healthy Hands Chalk Sticks for brand Savlon, which bagged the country’s second Grand Prix at the festival.