The glitter of India’s metal haul at Cannes has dimmed. Indian advertisers equalled last year’s 12-metal haul at the 54th Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival held last month, but they haven’t got a single gold. In 2006, there were four golds. This year’s tally was one promo, four silver and seven bronze Lions.
This, when entries from India went up by around 50% across all categories—Press, Films, Promotions, Direct, Cyber, Radio, Outdoor, Media, Titanium and Integrated. No Indian entry got shortlisted for the Titanium and Integrated awards. Of the 252 entries in the Outdoor category, only 14 made it to the shortlist, and none could win a metal. India had picked up four Outdoor Lions last year.
A record 51 Media Lions were awarded this year, up from 36 in 2006, but none of India’s seven shortlisted entries made the grade. India had 105 entries, compared with 53 last year. India again scored a duck in the Cyber Lion category, despite 36 entries, five more than last year. And, just one made it to the shortlist—Tribal DDB’s work for MTV Asia.
The only silver lining was in the Films category. McCann Erickson bagged a silver and a bronze for HappyDent, while production house Code Red Films’ submission in the category ‘Fund Raising and Appeals’, Hostel—developed for the Eye Bank Association of India—won a bronze. Indian agencies had 77 entries in Films Lions, five of which were shortlisted. Another consolation was the country’s two silver Radio Lions—India’s first win in the three-year-old category.
In terms of participation, too, there is only marginal difference: seven agencies and one production house won the dozen-odd Lions for India this year, compared to six agencies last year.
India’s performance was in sharp contrast to that of other developing nations, especially Brazil and Argentina. While the Indian presence at Cannes was palpable, the advertisers failed to make the grade onstage. Some cited a lack of understanding of Indian sensitivities for the poor results. But it must be noted that Code Red’s Hostel showed blind students playing Holi, a festival not many in the jury would be familar with. Whatever the reason, Cannes 2007 has shown that Indian advertising has arrived on the world stage, but only just. Presenting a snapshot of the 12 entries that won Lions.
Travel Corporation of India Pvt. Ltd
THE BRAND: Honeymoon Packages by Travel Corporation India (TCI) Pvt. Ltd
THE AGENCY: Grey Worldwide India Pvt. Ltd
THE TEAM: Sajan Raj Kurup (executive creative director), Vikram Gaikwad(creative director),Payal Juthani (art director), Priya S. (copywriter), Vinod Wakkchare (photographer). Kurup, Gaikwad and Juthani are now withCreativeLand Asia.
THE FIRST CUT: The insight the agency received from TCI was, more often than not, that Indians travel abroad for their honeymoon.
The company’s brief was simple: Promote our honeymoon packages. The team at Grey started out with some headline-based ads, with clever lines, along the “marriages are made in heaven” theme. “But all of that seemed too clichéd,” recalls Kurup. “Then, we wondered how henna, one of the simplest and most recognizable symbols associated with marriage, goes with the theme and that’s when it all fell into place,” he adds.
THE FINAL CALL: The team engaged a henna artist who worked on 10 pairs of hands, creating maps of places such as Australia, Venice and Hawaii.
More than two dozen pictures of these hands—both dry and wet—were taken, and the best shots were finalized for the campaign.
THE BRAND:Happydent chewing gum from Perfetti Van Melle India Pvt . Ltd
THE AGENCY: McCann Erickson (India) Pvt. Ltd
THE TEAM: Prasoon Joshi (executive creative director/ copywriter/ music), Anirban Sen (art director), Shantanu Moitra (music), Jiten Solanki (sound arrangement), Shyam Salgaonkar (editor), Ram Madhwani (director) and Manoj Shroff (producer).
THE FIRST-CUT: The team at McCann had zeroed in on the concept of using bright teeth as a source of light for the campaign. But, in execution, they wanted to move beyond the functionality of the product and dramatize its benefits. The first campaign for the product showcased a photographer and his assistant using a Happydent smile as a flash. This campaign was also nominated at Cannes, but it failed to bring home a Lion. For the second campaign, however, Joshi decided to “take a leap into fantasy”.
THE FINAL CALL: The team, thus, worked on the concept of creating a surreal city, where humans, who chewed Happydent were used as light bulbs. “The concept was beautifully executed by Ram Madhwani, who really understood my vision,” says Joshi. For execution, the team sourced artistes from Kerala because regular models would not have been able to balance themselves on poles as required in the film. Even the music was tailor-made to suit the surrealistic theme. “Had the jury understood the meaning of the lyrics,we could have won a gold for best use of music,” says Joshi, who wrote the lyrics and worked on the music with Shantanu Moitra. The music track was inspired by Sufi music as well as the work of Nazakat Ali Khan and Salamat Ali Khan.
The Eye Bank Association of India
THE BRAND:The Eye Bank Association of India
THE AGENCY:Code Red Films Pvt. Ltd
THE TEAM: Raghu Bhat and Manish Bhatt, both vice-presidents & executive creative directors, Contract Advertising (India) Pvt Ltd), Gajraj Rao (director), Subrat Ray (producer).
THE FIRST-CUT: The objective of this campaign was to encourage people to pledge to donate their eyes after death. Bhatt recalls he was inspired by a real-life experience that had taken place two and a half years ago. “I was visiting my brother in Nagpur. It was Holi, and I had stepped out for a walk with my daughter and neice. We passed a blind school and what I saw there was surreal, profound and beautiful. It was a bunch of blind children playing Holi,” he reminisces. He decided to discuss converting this real-life scene into a film with his team.
THE FINAL CALL:After many discussions, the idea gained the contours of a film. The situation chosen was that of a blind school. The team introduced a character , warden Kaka, and other nuances.
THE BRAND: Nerolac Quick Dry Paint by Kansai Nerolac Paints Ltd
THE AGENCY:McCann Erickson (India) Pvt. Ltd.
THE TEAM: Prasoon Joshi (executive creative director), Mahesh Parab (copywriter/art director) and Avadhut Hembade (photographer)
THE FIRST-CUT: Apparently, for this campaign, Joshi and his team had thought of using a celebrity who would showcase the product in an up-market house. Later, however, the team settled on a simple, yet powerful, concept. The idea, pitched by Parab, was about showing a painter painting a floor. To drive home the point that the paint dried quickly, he was shown sitting on the painted portion of the floor, while he worked towards finishing the rest of the task.
THE FINAL CALL: “Once that was finalized, we knew that a simple, no-frills execution will strike a chord with the audience,” says Joshi.
THE BRAND: Cocco’s Café by Coffee Shop
THE AGENCY:McCann Erickson (India) Pvt. Ltd
THE TEAM: Prasoon Joshi (executive creative director), Raghu Bhat (copywriter), P.K. Anil (copywriter), Manish Bhatt (art director), Mahesh Parab (art director). Bhat and Bhatt are now with Contract Advertising (India) Pvt. Ltd
THE FIRST-CUT: Coffee is about conversation. “We wanted to take this theme and do something really innovative,” says Joshi. “The idea originated from the fact that proper communication could have averted many a major conflict in world history.” His team, then, started working on that aspect.Bhat and Anil even studied the psyche of an assassin. The final dialogue in the script, apparently, is true to that character. “However, we weren’t sure how people would like to read a script, and asked the art directors to read the copy and depict the conversation through doodles,” recalls Bhatt.
THE FINAL CALL: The final execution was done on a paper napkin because the team observed that most people tend to scribble or doodle on tissue paper.
THE BRAND:Hutch Ranga Shankara Theatre Festival
THE AGENCY: Ogilvy & Mather (India) Pvt. Ltd
THE TEAM: Malvika Mehra (senior creative director), Amit Akali (creative director), Kaveri Bhise (senior visualizer), Chethna Suryakumar (junior copywriter) and Aadarsh Sharma (film executive)
THE FIRST-CUT:The challenge, as Arundhati Nag, the managing trustee at Ranga Shankara, had put it to the agency, was to promote theatre festivals. To revive the festival, the agency had to pitch drama as an engaging option for its target audience, and they had a modest budget to achieve this goal.The O&M team had no option but to think of an innovative idea to catch consumer attention.“We decided to take theatre to the people and reach out to them in places where they liked to hang out such as restaurants, coffee shops and busy market places,” says Mehra.
THE FINAL CALL:The team put together five scripts, which had dramatic scenes from real life, such as a young couple having a public spat at a popular restaurant and a man proposing marriage to an unwilling girl in the middle of a busy market. These were enacted in front of unsuspecting audiences. The skit would end with a message saying, “For more drama, come to Ranga Shankara”. It was only then that the audience would realize that the incident was staged. At which point, flyers containing relevant information such as play synopsis and timings were distributed. And it goes without saying that the campaign was a big hit.
The Vegetarian Society
THE BRAND:The World Vegetarian Conference by The Vegetarian Society of India
THE AGENCY: JWT India-Hindustan Thompson Associates Pvt. Ltd
THE TEAM:Bruce Matchett (chief creative officer), Agnello Dias (executive creative director/art director/copywriter), Firoz Karmalawala (film producer)
THE FIRST-CUT: Initially, the team wanted to engage vegetarian celebrities to endorse the conference but because of a limited budget, the idea was dropped. And, that was a blessing in disguise.
“It helped us come up with an original idea,” says Dias. The team, thus, decided to use a celebrity from Hindu mythology—the divine bull ‘Nandi’— as its mascot.
THE FINAL CALL:The team used a nodding bull and he worked wonders among the audience, specially at the grass roots level.
The bull travelled through residential areas in towns and villages catching people unawares.
Being a novel idea, it created a lot of buzz among the target audience, and, it goes without saying that the entire exercise was completed on a very small budget.
THE BRAND:Centre for Enquiry into Health & Allied Themes (CEHAT)
THE AGENCY: Leo Burnett India Pvt. Ltd
THE TEAM:K.V. Sridhar (executive creative director), Mithun Mirji (scriptwriter), Nitesh Tiwari (executive creative director/creative director)
THE FIRST-CUT:CEHAT wanted the team at Leo to broadcast a message against female foeticide among the public. The medium chosen was radio. Going by the clutter on the medium, the challenge before the agency was to present a thought-provoking idea.
As in most cases, the first option the team at Leo thought of was using some women celebrities. But the idea was struck down because it was too clichéd.
“We wanted to create something that will immediately strike an emotional connect with the audience. A rational but staid thought might not have yielded the desired result,” says Tiwari.
THE FINAL CALL:To bring in the emotional element in the message, the team decided to use a child’s giggle in the audio spot. They believed everyone would relate to this instinctively. And once, this got the audience hooked to it, the message says: “It’s a girl”. “And that’s where the penny really drops,” says Tiwari.
THE BRAND: Cambridge Audio System by The Soundsmiths
THE AGENCY: Everest Brand Solutions Pvt. Ltd
THE TEAM: Prateek Bhardwaj (creative director), Garima Khandelwal (art director), Elrid Carvalho (copywriter). Bhardwaj and Khandelwal are now with Ambience Publicis Advertising Pvt. Ltd
THE FIRST-CUT: The challenge before the team was to change the perception that high-end music systems are fragile and sensitive to scratched CDs. The team had to convey this message through direct mailers to a niche audience. They decided to give them a first-hand experience of the feature. “Garima came to me with the idea of sending out CDs, enclosed in envelopes made of sandpaper, to prospective buyers,” recalls Bhardwaj. And everyone bought into it.
THE FINAL CALL: Scratched CDs were, thus, sent out to a certain set of consumers, who were urged to bring them to the showroom to test the players themselves.
Most of those who got the mailers actually turned up to test the CDs.
The Indian Association for the Promotion of Adoption and Child Welfare
THE AGENCY:Ogilvy & Mather (India) Pvt. Ltd
THE TEAM:Piyush Pandey (executive creative director), Sumanto Chattopadhyay (creative director/copywriter), Rajiv Rao (creative director/art director) and Suresh Natarajan (photographer)
THE FIRST-CUT: The first campaign put together by the team was fairly different from the one that finally saw the light of day. “In the first campaign, we showed a mother putting her baby to bed, but if one looked beyond the acetate sheets, it revealed that she was actually abandoning the baby in a garbage bin,” recalls Chattopadhyay. While the advertisement reflected a reality, some parents who had adopted children (the team had spent time with several such couples) thought the idea was too harsh. The team then decided to change the focus to urging people by highlighting what they could gain by adopting a hapless child. Chattopadhyay says he was also very excited about another idea where bars on a baby’s cot were used as a concept. However, it didn’t go down too well with the team and the rest.
THE FINAL CALL:The team, thus, worked on the concept that parents gain more out of adoption than the child. The final execution was simple.
THE BRAND:Bullzi Placement Services, Mumbai.
THE AGENCY:Ambience Publicis Advertising Pvt. Ltd
THE TEAM:Elsie Nanji (executive creative director), Manish Patel(scriptwriter), Ramanuj Shastry (creative director/scriptwriter), Prasanna Sankhe (creative director)
THE FIRST-CUT: The mandate the team at Ambience Publicis got was to create a brand recall for Bullzi against its rivals, who were not only bigger than it but also had bigger ad budgets. “So far, advertisements for recruitment agencies have always focused on people being in the wrong job, or being in one place for too long. We, too, went through the ideas of working around the ‘stuck in the wrong job’ theme. But, because the budget was very small, we had to come up with something that was really good and would cut through the clutter,” recalls Shastry.
THE FINAL CALL:The idea the team finally decided on was very simple, yet different. The campaign, which was for radio, started out like a public service campaign, telling listeners that if they smoked a cigarette, they would lose certain minutes of their lives, and if they got stuck in a job they didn’t like, their life would be shortened by eight hours each day because those moments were never going to come back. “The thought put everything in perspective,” says Shastry.