Cannes Lions 2023 - A peek into the mind of Indian jurors

Sneha Medda
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Cannes Lions 2023

As the Indian advertising industry is gearing up for Cannes Lions 2023, Indian jurors are anticipating a similar or better outcome as last year. Social Samosa talks to Indian jurors to understand their thoughts going into the awards.

2022 was historic for the Indian Cannes Lions. Agencies are going back to the festival of creativity with a lot of optimism in their heart this year too, in hopes to continue the winning streak or create new history.  

In 2021, the festival and its committee faced flak for a perceived lack of diversity among the deans of the Roger Hatchuel Academy (RHA) learning programme. However, Cannes committee had said back then that while this is a particularly disappointing moment for LIONS, the organisation has been proud to appoint increasingly diverse panels of jurors and talent.

This year, 13 Indian jurors across categories have been included out of the 290 experts, taking the number to double-digit for the first time. 

Social Samosa talks to the Indian jurors to know their thoughts and expectations going in. 

Expectations From 2023

In 2022, India performed exceptionally well at the Cannes Lions. With the pressure of competing against other nations, India also faces the challenge of outshining its own record this year. 

Last year, India wrapped up its best-ever year at the event by going home with 47 metals including 5 Grand Prix, 2 Titanium, 8 Gold, 18 Silver and 14 Bronze Lions and the Agency Of The Year (AOTY) title. 

With works like the ‘Unfiltered History Tour’ and ‘Not Just a Cadbury Ad’ breaking records last year, jurors are hopeful and excited for the nation’s work this year. 

Looking back at the previous year’s record and what India has in store this time, Farishte Irani, Group Head – Copy, Dentsu Creative, India said that in 2022,  India witnessed innovative ideas that use technology well, to campaigns with actual impact and a flood of young talent in the ad world.

She further notes, “2022 set a benchmark for Indian advertising. 2022 was definitely the year that established India as a market to look out for – it’s a year that I’m sure everyone in the Indian advertising industry will look back it.”

This year too, the Indian ad industry has churned out some exceptional content and Aditya Kanthy, CEO & Managing Director, DDB MUDRA Group, India is optimistic about maintaining the winning streak. 

“If India continues to focus on the standard of work and more agencies in our market take the challenge of nailing the global standard of work, I am confident we’ll surpass last year’s record,” says Kanthy. 

Josy Paul, Chairman & CCO, BBDO, India thinks that last year's glorious win is an added advantage for India this year. He further adds, “I think last year’s performance was so good that the echo factor will put a halo on this year’s work from India as well. The work from India will certainly continue to dominate the show this year. To what extent, one can’t say right now.”

Also Read: Niharika Pande of Meta on harnessing the power of Instagram

Reminding that the ultimate goal is to use the global platform, PG Aditiya, Co-Founder & CCO, Talented, India says, “The spirit of Cannes Lions isn't in the tally or the records or the AOTY titles but the sheer joy of seeing the world love all of our work.”

Making A Difference But Not Cause-Washing

Creativity is often tied up with purpose. With conversations around poverty porn, greenwashing, and woke-washing, experts have been urging brands and agencies to use the platform to create a difference and not just to win a metal.

Rajdeepak Das, CEO & CCO, Leo Burnett, India thinks that creativity has the power to change lives, and that’s exactly what Cannes Lions represents. He further adds, “The narrative that we should be building through the Cannes stage is – how to use creativity to make a real difference.” 

Last year at the Cannes Lions, Leo Burnett’s P&G Whisper ‘The Missing Chapter’ won a Grand Prix in Sustainable Development Goals Lions Category. The campaign advocated for better menstrual education in India. 

Farishte Irani thinks that India needs to use Cannes Lions to firstly cement trust with their clients and secondly, retain talent in the country and prove that India is a nation where creativity can thrive. 

She further talks about furthering the advertising narrative on a global scale and adds, “Indian agencies need to look beyond your typical purpose-driven work – purpose-driven campaigns are always great, but I think it’s time for agencies to continue proving that the Indian advertising industry is so much more than that.”

In the past, many ads in the country have had to face backlash for using the nation’s ‘poverty’ as a medium to glorify the brand’s products and services.

Talking about whether the Indian advertising industry should shy away from sending changing-making work to Cannes for fear of being seen as an 'underdeveloped' country or not, Kanthy says, “There is nothing to fear or be ashamed of as long as the work is relevant. The work should be done with integrity, it should reflect the challenges and intricacies of our culture and businesses. The power of creativity is to be able to move society, culture and grow businesses.”  

Irani points out that a great campaign is a great campaign – regardless of the tag we attach to it. She further adds, “I don’t think agencies should shy away from change-making campaigns if the impact is real and if the campaign itself is innovative.” 

Similarly, PG Aditiya mentions, “India is a huge country, the more work we send, the more diverse our range is bound to become.”

Trends Foreseen

In the last few years, with Artificial Intelligence (AI) becoming more mainstream, the advertising industry has also embraced technology and married it with creativity. Apart from Vice’s Unfiltered History tour, in the past, Swiggy’s ‘Voice of Hunger’ was a prominent win in the tech-driven category. 

Stepping foot in this year’s awards, experts are expecting to witness more tech-driven work at Cannes Lions.  

“I’m trying to go in with no (or minimal) preconceived notions and assumptions. But I am expecting work that adds a modern, tech-first/Gen Z spin to old-school advertising – especially in more traditional categories,” says Irani. 

Similarly, Das notes that he is looking forward to seeing ideas and execution which use technology, and data design innovatively to create work that stands out. 

“I try and go as a pilgrim and not as a judge. I want the work to judge me, rather than me judging the work. That way I receive new things which helps me broaden my mind, gain a deeper understanding of the work, the culture it comes from, and the creative process behind it,” states Paul.

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