Delegates of the 62nd Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity were yet to start making their plans for the day via the Cannes app when the awards committee announced shortlists for the Press, Mobile, Innovation, Direct and Promo & Activation categories.
No show from India on any of the categories, except Press, which fetched them 18 shortlists and Direct, which got TBWA a shortlist.
How many entered in the category? 132 and 74, respectively. A 13 per cent conversion rate in Press and 1.3 per cent in Direct but the percentage doesn’t matter as long as the shortlists go on to win big, says KV Sridhar, chief creative officer of SapientNitro. “People will remember that one great campaign that won across categories and not the number of entries you’d sent,” he adds, citing the example of Duracell’s positive negative stories campaign that won a handful of Lions last year.
With mobile replacing digital in the ‘digital is the future’ prophecy, one would’ve expected some shortlists in the mobile category. “Maybe we are actually not doing enough exciting work in the space just yet. And perhaps rightly so,” says Sanjay Mehta, joint CEO of Social Wavelength and one of the Mobile jurors at the festival. “Whatever got shortlisted, I have truly not seen anything of that calibre in India,” he says.
The total number of entries has also come down this year, marginally so, from 979 to 945. Sridhar, also one of the Press jurors for Cannes Lions this year, attributes this to the declining agency participation in domestic awards. “Only if I play well at domestic cricket do I stand a better chance at excelling at international cricket,” he says.
Advertising isn’t very different in this regard. Agencies like Ogilvy and Lowe have started inhouse awards and Leo Burnett has stopped entering awards with the enthusiasm it used to. “All this comes through in the craft and quality of the work that’s entered at international awards,” he Sridhar. The pressure for validation isn’t the same anymore.
“A lot of work entered to win at Cannes isn’t mainstream work anyway,” notes Grey’s Dheeraj Sinha. Only a matter of 24 hours (until the awards ceremony) before we find whether India is on its way to equalling or topping a great run last year.