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Josy Paul @Cannes Lions: 'Hawa' is blowing in our direction

Josy Paul, Chairman & Chief Creative Officer, BBDO India, has his hands full over the next three days as a Jury member for Glass Lions at 2016 Cannes Lions Festival. Not only that, he will also be doing a Masterclass at the Festival.

Paul set up BBDO in India from the backseat of his car in 2008 along with his partner Ajai Jhala. The agency pioneered the idea of brand movements with the belief that India needs more ‘Acts Not Ads’. Josy is ranked among the most influential people in Indian advertising – according to The Economic Times.

Paul and his team have won almost every inaugural Lion at Cannes Lions. The Glass Lion Grand Prix – for P&G's Whisper ‘Touch The Pickle’. The Glass Lion Gold for P&G's Ariel ‘Share The Load’. The Black Lion for Creative Effectiveness for Gillette ‘Women Against Lazy Stubble’. Josy was one of the main speakers at Cannes Lions in 2012 and 2014. He was also Campaign Magazine's 'Creative Person of the Year' in 2015 for India and South Asia. In March this year, Josy was awarded ‘Creative Agency Head of the Year’ at the IAA Leadership Awards.

As for his Cannes, here’s Josy Paul in his own words...

What I plan to do

For three days I’ll be locked in a room doing jury duty for Glass Lions, then another day I am doing a Masterclass, and I am also speaking on stage on what happened at the Glass Lions. For four days I am fully locked blocked, so I am looking at what I can do in the last three days, and with clients there, there’s a bit of networking lunch and dinners. So given all that, I am still negotiating my way, but because I am in the Glass Lion jury, I have a registration for the whole week. So, I am definitely going to sit quietly, alone and listen to people. This is really a pilgrimage, and so nobody is a jury anymore – as I had said, you can’t be a jury, you can’t be a guru – everything is a learning programme right now for me because things are changing so fast, you can only react with your gut, you can only react with how you feel about the idea based on your idea muscle. All of us have an idea muscle and when you see something, the idea muscle acts up – it’s an intuitive muscle. And for me, that’s how I am responding. My body reacts, my heart reacts, so I don’t analyse things much when it comes to judging.

Confidence in India’s performance

I never thought last year would be bad, I always thought last year would be good, but it looked like something different was happening in Cannes. Like that line from the Havells’ ad – ‘hawa badal raha hai’ – and I feel that this year, the ‘hawa’ is blowing in our direction, because if you look at a lot of the work they seem to be fresh for the jury because they are a lot of cultural nuances and local nuances. These are the things that the jury today seem to like and you would have seen that with the way how we performed last year with something so remote and integral to India like Whisper – Touch the Pickle, which you could never tell that any jury would understand, but they understood it and they gave it award after award. Clearly, the mood it about sharing.

Cannes and the advertising fraternity

I think Cannes is a cultural exchange programme, it’s a creative exchange programme. It is to re-energise yourself, open your mind, it’s about forgetting your past. I think it’s about everyone who says this is how you should do this; they should be able to come back and say – I am so happy that I went to Cannes. I always thought this is the only way things are to be done, but now I know I can also do it this way – and that sort of progressive, open mindset will help the individual, the brand, the agency and the advertisers. And therefore, I think it’s a good place to be.

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