By Rajiv Dingra
The Lion is all set to roar! This is that time of the year when the entire ad-world is seen fastening their seat belts to take off to probably get their Lion home.
It will be my third year attending the Cannes Lions, the first year being in 2016 was when I was completely in awe of the scale of the show. It definitely looked like the Oscars of advertising. With Indian agencies giving a tough competition to world-wide contenders, let’s go down the memory lane and see how India has evolved at Cannes Lions year-on-year as. Take a look.
The year of glory
Cannes Lions has always perceived as highly internationally dominated creative award show but 2008 was the year when India walked into the global limelight. India had hit a six that year by bagging a ‘Grand Prix’. JWT honchos would have been on cloud 9 when their name was announced as they received the country’s first Grand Prix. Since then there was no looking back.
About more glory
So, as one sees the awards progress for India, 2017 was the best year ever with 40 metals including a Grand Prix for Indian agencies. It has indeed taken us a long time to get here, to get recognized, and be the contenders at International advertising festivals like Cannes Lions.
2009 was another progressive year with 25 odd metals out of the 1,182 pieces which were entered from India. But with one step ahead we took two steps back as in 2010 as India managed only 17 metals comprising 3 Golds, 6 Silvers, and 8 Bronzes.
But, we hit the bell again in 2011 with 24 metals but that momentum didn’t last too long as India’s tally in 2012 fell to just 14 metals. What was most disheartening, was India’s dismal showing in the ‘Cyber Lions’ and ‘Mobile Lions’ categories with zero shortlists.
2013 was again a good year for India as we bagged 34 metals and kept it steady with 28 lions in 2014. 2015 became a low year with only 14 metals though India was the first winner of the newly introduced Glass Lions award with a ‘Grand Prix’.
Well, Indians know how to change the game, be it cricket or anything. Just like that, 2016 the momentum picked up again with 31 metals and again a ‘Grand Prix’ in Glass Lions and Medulla Communications was chosen as Healthcare Agency of the year. Now, that’s called a comeback!
The ticking off the clock
2018 is a marquee year for Indian ad-world in many ways at Cannes as, firstly, the Pandey brothers are going to be the first Indian recipients of the ‘The lion of St Marks’* award and secondly, Amit and Praful Akali of Medulla Communications shall be on stage as well speaking on the 19th June.
Interestingly, India has already secured 6 nominations across Glass, Titanium and Innovation Lions and it looks very likely that this year too the ‘Grand Prix’ in Glass lions may come India’s way. Two of my favorite campaigns from those shortlisted are ‘Free Period Project’ and ‘Good Vibes’. I would definitely like to see them win.
Why the young guns about make an appearance
I think over a decade more and more Indian agencies have started exposing their people to Cannes and other such global awards. Last year at Cannes I met young ad executives from creative agencies with not more than 3-5 years of experience attending Cannes and I feel that is the best exposure we can give to the youth in our industry to drive their aspiration to excel at the global stage.
If the six Indian shortlists announced so far is any measure then the quality of work submitted is of a very high standard. We may not win 40 or more metals but I do expect us to win more Golds than last year. The change in format by Cannes Lions and restriction on how many lions one can enter and in general a transformation year for the industry all should help India’s chances this year.
See you, folks, then, from the other side of the world.
*For records, The Lion of St. Mark is an award given each year at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for a lifetime of services to creativity in communications.
The writer is the founder and CEO, WATConsult.