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Mondelez’s Cannes Lions win is definitely not a flash in the pan: Anil Viswanathan

Anil Viswanathan, Senior Director – Marketing, Mondelez India, speaks to Adgully about Mondelez’s Titanium Lion-winning campaign – ‘Not Just a Cadbury Ad 2.0’ – at Cannes Lions 2022, what makes him be confident about the creative work from India on global forums, why brands and ads need to create meaningful engagement, and much more.

How has your entire experience of winning at Cannes Lions 2022 been? Were you expecting the wins? 

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It’s every marketer and advertiser’s dream to be recognised at one of the most reputed stages and most recognisable forums of the world. So, I am feeling very proud and happy for the team. It’s been a long journey, involving a lot of people. We have a very strong legacy of Cadbury in the country, and we really built on it and I’m glad that it reinforces this legacy and takes it forward, giving us the confidence to keep building on it and growing it further.

Over a period of time, we did see the impact that this campaign has had on our business and our consumers, so we were aware that we had created a fair amount of impact in the market and that reflected in the internal and external recognition that we got in the country and in the lead up to the Cannes Lions festival. We saw a lot of recognition that the campaign got, so we were optimistic. But the scale at which it was recognized – especially the fact that it went on to win a Titanium Lion – was not something that we anticipated, none of us could have anticipated that. We just focused on the work and the impact that we could create, and we are very happy with the recognition that it got.

India has had its best year ever at Cannes Lions this year? What are your observations on the creative work from India? Is the world finally warming up to the creative talent in India?

I really hope so, it definitely feels that it is not a flash in the pan; at least I can speak for Mondelez. I’m very confident that with what we have achieved this year, the kind of work that we have done in 2022 and the stuff that’s coming up, we will continue to do well now. Whether we win or not and what we win, all of that is not in our hands, but definitely I think it will have the similar kind of impact that we’ve had in the previous year, which has led to the recognition this year. I think that is definitely something that I’m very confident about.

Once the ecosystem understands what it takes to receive recognition at this stage, that kind of sets the momentum. There’s an internal momentum now within the ecosystem for brands which have not won to say ‘I also want to do work which impacts my business and creates the same kind of clutter breaking output that other brands have got’, so I think there’s a lot of positive momentum and energy that this is generating. This is the second factor which makes me feel confident.

The third and underlying thing that I have observed is that a lot of the work they have this year has been driven by tech innovation. And, as we know, in India there’s a lot of interesting tech innovation work that is happening – both with the native platforms and with the well established global platforms, and given the fact that we have strong relationships with our business partners Facebook, Google, Jio, we have been working with them very closely. This allows us to do a lot of innovations.

We also discovered quite a few very interesting start-ups –  Rephraise.AI, with whom we did the SRK work or two years back DeltaX with whom we did the first round of ‘Not just a Cadbury ad’. These are all tech innovations that are first to market, and in many cases, first in the world, so I think the fact that we are able to do that in India and we are able to really be fearless in the experiments that we are doing, I think, is giving me the confidence that if you have done this here why won’t you be able to do it in the future? That’s the third thing that I would like to say in terms of the potential going into the future. Definitely when it comes to embracing technology, we have been noticing at Cannes Lions over the last few years that technology and innovation have been two of the big drivers for good work, and now that we are able to get that in India, I think we should be able to accelerate the kind of recognition we get in the years to come.

How can India keep up this winning momentum? Do you think campaigns are becoming more about social responsibility, empathy and soft sell rather than carefully crafted brand push?

Brands across the world and also in India are picking up themes and platforms that are really important for the consumer and it is an important point, because finally the end of the day, in a world where consumer is in one digital platform or the other and consuming so much of content, the only way that a brand can stand out and engage with the consumers on an ongoing basis is only if those engagements are meaningful. Hence, in the context of it being meaningful purpose, things like sustainability, things like doing something which is impacting the society in a positive way definitely helps. But it doesn’t mean that all advertising and all brands need to have a serious tonality, or solve world hunger, that’s not the case, I think it is all about meaningful engagement. Something like the most recent Spotify campaign, which was very engaging. It picks up a theme which is very relevant for the consumer, and then create an idea or a platform that is super engaging and make the consumer come back again and again to consume that content.

It is definitely not going to be one-directional messaging from one brand for the consumers to consume. That’s never going to happen. Over a period of time, it is already changing to a two-way communication between brands and consumers, on a platform that makes sense to consumers. It is very much important to the brand’s purpose, the brand idea that matters to the consumer, is important to the consumers life in one way or the other, and then through that creating an engagement that makes the consumer come to the brand and talk to the brand engage with the brand on this, I think that’s what is going to drive the future of great work.

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