Raisa Chakravarty (right) and Anupama Sharma.
Raisa Chakravarty (right) and Anupama Sharma.

Moustaches make girl power win at Cannes

Raisa Chakravarty and Anupama Sharma of ITC bagged the Silver Lion at the Young Lions Marketers Competition at the Cannes advertising festival

Raisa Chakravarty, the 28-year-old assistant brand manager at ITC Ltd, was elated when she learnt that she along with her teammate Anupama Sharma had bagged the Silver Lion at the Young Lions Marketers Competition at the ongoing Cannes advertising festival in France. “The experience has instilled confidence and encouraged me to push boundaries towards thinking better," she said.

Cannes Lions is one of the most coveted and established awards in the creative and marketing communications industry since 1954.

The Young Lions Marketers Competition was spread over an intense 24-hour period where the teams were required to design a concise and effective brief for a product or service that would benefit the Movember Foundation—a global charity foundation focused on men’s health.

Chakravarty and Sharma proposed a product called Mo-Chips, made of nutrient-rich food to promote healthy eating habits. The chips were moustache-shaped, indicating their emphasis on men’s health. “We designed an integrated campaign that would allow consumers to participate and support the cause in the most fun and simple manner, and spread the word about men’s health at the same time," said Chakravarty.

Chakravarty manages the Fiama range of products at ITC. She has been working with ITC for the last two years and said marketing in today’s time and age is about being real and connecting with people by giving them true value for the products they consume. “It’s exciting to see how ITC’s brands touch people and their lives in small yet significant ways," she said. After studying communications at MICA, Ahmedabad, she joined Metro Cash and Carry India Pvt. Ltd. as a management trainee. She gets her management skills from her father who has been a marketer all his life. “My dad is my biggest inspiration," said Chakravarty.

Sharma, 25, who is Chakravarty’s colleague at ITC, shares the same passion for marketing. She is an assistant brand manager, and looks over brands such as Engage and Essenza Di Wills. Her marketing mantra is to connect with people emotionally through storytelling. She said one cannot sell a product unless the brand or an advertisement evokes emotions. “For me marketing is just about emotions. Emotions like innocence, nostalgia, regret and aspiration. It is about tapping into the inside of what people feel," said Sharma. She enjoys the creative part of brand management which involves concept development and development of creatives, among other things.

Participating in The Lions at Cannes was on the wish list of the two young women since their college days and when the competition was announced in India, they didn’t want to miss the opportunity. “I had been waiting for Young Lions to open in India since last December. I must have seen the website about 50 times. And the moment it opened, I decided to participate with Raisa," said Sharma.

Winning the Silver Lion was not a smooth journey. The girls spent time on understanding and analysing the past years’ Cannes winning case studies and conducted mock sessions to test each other. They interacted with all the other brand teams at ITC to understand different products by the company. They also researched on topical issues such as women equality and plastic pollution.

“I would like to compliment Raisa and Anupama for their passion, enthusiasm and dedication. Their achievement at Cannes is a testimony to ITC’s commitment and focus to develop professional managers in the corporate sector as some of the best creative managerial minds of this country," said Sameer Satpathy, chief executive of ITC’s personal care products business.

“Raisa and Anupama stood out as they had a lightness of touch and added humour. Their style was very engaging. They had good personal chemistry and were authentic in their presentation," said Ruth Yearley who headed the jury at Cannes. Yearley is a partner and director of insights and strategy at Ketchum, a leading global communications consultancy headquartered in New York city.

Sharma said the process of preparing for the competition has changed many things for her. Her thought process and the way she looks at things has changed drastically. “It has changed the way I think, the way I look at data, and the way I write the brief for a product or brand," she said.