At Cannes, the size of change was in focus

| Updated on June 28, 2018 Published on June 28, 2018

Intense experience   -  REUTERS

The extent of impact and scalability were at the centre of conversations

I’ve been to Cannes quite a few times, but this one was like no other.

For starters, it wasn’t just a congregation of advertising professionals from across the world, but also football fans from all over. The ad folk had come bearing optimism not just for their work, but also for their teams. So evenings were filled with oohs, aahs, fist-pumps and f*#k$, depending on how your team was doing. It’s a different experience watching the World Cup surrounded by fans who have more than love for the game at stake.

And while there were reasons for their chests to swell with pride, we had our own. India was at its golden best this year; bookending the show with a Grand Prix each and a few golds in between. And then the ultimate tribute to an advertising professional – The Lion of St. Marks, a lifetime award. But it was as much a tribute to Indian advertising as it was to brothers Piyush and Prasoon Pandey. After all, it was their work that marked the renaissance of Indian advertising. We have all just been trying to take it forward.

The awards experience

It was also the first time that work shortlisted for the Glass and Titanium Lions was required to be presented in person. And we were lucky to be shortlisted in both, for our work for Stayfree – Project Free Period.

It was the best Cannes jury experience one could get without being on one. We were brought face-to-face with their thoughts, apprehensions and questions about our work, and even got a chance to defend it. It was an intense experience!

While it adds many more agonising hours to the judging process, I feel it is a conscious step to help juries award the reality of a piece of work and not merely the perception of it. Even more so as Glass and Titanium are considered to be culture-changing and category-shifting categories. So much of the conversation with our jury, and at the festival, was around “scalability” and “impact”. It’s about how big can you make this, and the size of the change it can bring about.

Before someone asks, idea is still king and craft is still the royal decree. But it’s assumed that if you have been invited to the table, your royalty is in place.

Changing profile of delegates

Another observation about the royal party called Cannes is the guest list. Over the last few years I have been seeing a change in the profile of the delegates and the visitors. First, it was the clients joining the party – Chief Marketing Officers of global giants, those that were their second-in-command, their future stars. Then the tech companies came along, Facebook, Google, Snapchat, Spotify, The Next Big Thingummy. And now, the consultants – PWC, Deloitte, Accenture and others knights of data analytics. Cannes has now become a lot about wining, dining and winning. Hopefully, not in that order.

But there’s one thing that hasn’t changed about Cannes, and I feel never will. The moment when you are invited on stage to receive a Lion. And no matter how many times you win, or have won, your chest still puffs up and you feel just as chuffed.

Because on that stage you can feel it all – the respect, the admiration, the envy and your own hunger for more. If that’s what I felt, I cannot even begin to imagine what the Pandey brothers felt.

Rahul Mathew is National Creative Director, DDB Mudra Group

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Published on June 28, 2018
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