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#CannesDo: The key learnings from Cannes Lions 2019

Yet another edition of Cannes Lions 2019 Festival of Creativity has wrapped up. India’s final tally of metals included 18 Lions (1 Gold, 5 Silver, 12 Bronze), won by 9 agencies. While India was the 13th most awarded advertising nation, we did not make out with a greater number of Lions compared to the previous year and left Indians clamouring for “Yeh dil maange more”. However, there were a number of key trends that emerged in the advertising awards of relevance to the industry.

Read More: Tough year for India at Cannes Lions 2019, feel ad honchos

Purpose driven communication

FCB Ulka won the solitary Gold Lion for India for their ‘The Open Door Project’ that served to cause of sustainable education. Most of the shortlists and winning work at the festival from India was for awareness campaigns that did some good. Another noteworthy brand that made huge investments in purpose driven communication was P&G that had their Gillette ‘The Best a Man Can Be’ and Vicks ‘One in a Million’ campaigns selected in several categories.

In a previous interaction, Ritu Mittal, Country Marketing Manager – Personal Health Care, India Sub-continent, P&G, had said, “If we look at our consumers, deep in India or globally, there is a growing trend that they want to buy brands that are socially responsible and act as a force for good. They don’t want to buy into functional advertising, that’s for sure.”

N Chandramouli, CEO, TRA Research, opined, “As an advertisement, social messaging does have a far greater emotional connect with audiences, and even with juries. There has also been an increase in the number of social message advertisements as a whole, and clients are showing greater need to connect with audiences through this indirect approach since they have realised that the age of selling with advertisements is dead, and you can only help them buy, by relating to their emotional needs better. This is a trend you will see rising.”

Digitally led, creatively driven

Dentsu Aegis Network winning the Lion’s share of awards at Cannes was an important development for marketers who have been watching Cannes Lions closely.

According to Shubho Sengupta, Digital Marketer, “It doesn’t happen over one award, but I can say for sure a lot of marketers are watching Cannes Lions 2019 closely than they did 5 years or 10 years back. When you say you’ve won something at Cannes, most marketers know what you’re talking about.

Digital work will be taken far more seriously at least among certain marketers who are following the Cannes Lions 2019 awards with Dentsu Webchutney taking up multiple awards, far more than other agencies. That’s a huge thing for digital agencies.

Marketers are very sensitive to something that is creative. Especially, now that the market is so overcrowded. So, creativity does count, now more than ever.”

Among 91 countries that participated in Cannes, India was among the top countries to compete in categories like Digital Craft, Mobile, Creative e-commerce, and Creative Data. This is indicative of a growing trend that digital agencies in our country are confident that their digital work is on par with global standards.

Perhaps what’s lacking is confluence of technology and creative. Ashish Bhasin of DAN, Sonal Dabral of Ogilvy, and Yashaswini Samat of Grey group India are in agreement that while India’s creative ideas are top notch, they pale in comparison to global standards when it comes to execution. More digital integration is perhaps what is required in the future.

New Animal at Cannes

In an Instagram story Q&A, Publicis Communication South Asia, CEO, Saurabh Varma, said, “Cannes is in a continuous state of transformation. There is more happening outside the Palais, than at the Palais. You also see a lot more of the PwCs and Accentures. Overall, this year, the larger theme around creating for ‘good’ and work that has a purpose has a huge accent. The innovations are becoming more dominant. Creator culture is becoming a dominant theme.”

He believes, “The advertising business model needs an upgrade. We will need to be nimbler. The ability to combine specialist operations to solve critical problems will become the key.”

The competition given by the Accentures of the world has forced old world creative gurus to change the way they look at creative work. The jury at Cannes this year has been more cognizant of good digital work because clients have been demanding it.

According to N Chandramouli, “Digital is growing very fast and clients are learning quickly what is not working. This is forcing agencies try newer approaches and so you can see a lot of good work, leading to wins. Juries are supposed to vote for ads that will engage deeper with the audiences, be more relatable. Brands and agencies will learn from the winning entries to adapt it for their brand, but that will churn mediocrity. In turn, they must look at the process that agencies took to innovate, and adopt those, which will lead to further innovation.”

Winners from India 

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