Ajay Kakar
Jun 24, 2011

Ajay Kakar's blog: Why does a client attend Cannes, an advertising festival?

Ajay Kakar is chief marketing officer, financial services, Aditya Birla Group

Ajay Kakar's blog: Why does a client attend Cannes, an advertising festival?


McCann (Prasoon). BBDO (Josie). RK Swamy (Sundar). Bates (Sonal). Ogilvy gang (Xenobia, Sumanto, Keenu, Rajeev). GroupM (Dalveer). Leo Burnett.(Pops). Lintas Media (Lynn). Karishma Media (Sathya). Adclub (Bipin). Lodestar (Nandini). Team Mudra (Arijit, Sandeep, Bobby, Andy, Pratap, Aditya). Grey (Malvika). Creative Land Asia (Sajan Raj), TOI gang… with every passing day you spot more and more familiar faces from back home. The Indian advertising industry is well represented at Cannes. Out of the total 9000+ delegates from around 90 countries at the 58th international festival of creativity, at last count there were 179 registered participants from India.

The agency world is well represented, but can’t say the same about the Indian marketing/client fraternity. While I hear that some of them are here, haven’t spotted any, so far.

But I was happy to see more Indians in the Palais, this time, than years gone by. Guess the 57 Seminars, 20 Workshops, 28,828 award entries and 4 award ceremonies – all together, have managed to create the desired magical pull.

India has also been generous with the number of entries submitted for the awards. Am told that we have the 7th largest number of entries (have heard numbers ranging from 1173 to 1742). We will only know the total metal tally that India is going to take back home, by Saturday night. But it is heartening to see the wins coming in from diverse countries like China, Korea, Romania, Columbia, Tunisia and Peru.

Today the ‘town was painted red’, literally. Ogilvy was celebrating David Ogilvy’s 100th birthday today, at Cannes, in a big way. A red carpet was spread out along the length of the Croisette, right up to the steps of the Palais, with the words “What’s your inspiration” written at regular intervals. The legendary billboard of the Cannes festival, just above the steps, was replaced by a picture of David Ogilvy and the agency’s tribute to him. A befitting exception made by the authorities. Am told that a very large Ogilvy contingent from across the globe has gathered at Cannes to remember and salute the agency’s legendary founder. Among others, Miles Young, the Worldwide CEO and DO’s wife are also at Cannes.

Rather than do the routine synopsis of today’s sessions, want to address a question oft asked off me, “Why does a client attend Cannes, an advertising festival?”

To start with, I do not see Cannes as an advertising festival. I see it as the opportunity to observe and learn from the most creative and inspiring work that has happened around the advertising and communications world, from across the globe, in the last 12 months. Work that makes you think. Work that motivates you. Work that inspires you….irrespective of whether you are an agency or a client.

Also, while I am the first to acknowledge the invaluable role of our agency partners in creating our brands, I do believe that the best brands are built when the client and agency come together, to co create their joint dream for their brand. And towards this end, I do believe that the client should be by his agency partner’s side in their moments of learning, inspiration and pride.

On a personal note, I do know that I go back home brimming with ideas and learnings. And with renewed respect for the fraternity that, like a ‘mother-child’ relationship, helps give birth to and nurtures our brands. I also go back humbled with a reality check of how much more can and should be done on my brands. I always return home with a renewed determination and commitment to support my agency partners in their ideas and work.

Before I sign off for the day, an observation…or am I just imagining it…I spotted many many Indian tourists in Cannes this year. Don’t think I had spotted any, last year.

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