Campaign India Team
Jun 22, 2010

Ajay's blog: Cannes is quite the candy store

“Where are you staying?” For some reason, this seems to be the first question asked of you when you bump into any familiar face at the Cannes festival. While I have yet to unravel the logic behind this custom, I have come to realize that the Gods stay at the Martinez Hotel. And the demigods choose the Carlton. And if you stay elsewhere, it is obvious that you are but a mere mortal. But if your hotel happens to be on the Croisette, well you are considered a notch above the pack.

Ajay's blog: Cannes is quite the candy store

“Where are you staying?” For some reason, this seems to be the first question asked of you when you bump into any familiar face at the Cannes festival. While I have yet to unravel the logic behind this custom, I have come to realize that the Gods stay at the Martinez Hotel. And the demigods choose the Carlton. And if you stay elsewhere, it is obvious that you are but a mere mortal. But if your hotel happens to be on the Croisette, well you are considered a notch above the pack.

I am one of the fortunate, staying at a hotel that has direct access to the promenade. The hotel makes me feel at home, especially since many fellow Indians are also staying here – the Bates team and Times of India team being among them.

The Cannes calendar makes me feel like a kid in a candy store – there is so much to choose from. So, whatever you choose to attend, you know that there is something worthwhile that is happening in another room – which you will have to miss. Armed with a list of sessions that I definitely wanted to attend during the day, I stepped out in the bright sun and a brisk walk, and seven minutes later, I was at the Palais. On the way there, I could see that the sun had brought out many tourists who were sunbathing on the beach, oblivious of the chilly winds that blew through the morning. And in the horizon, one spotted yachts of different shapes and sizes, all out of a scene from the “Bold and the Beautiful”.

The day was action packed. And here are some of the highlights:

• The OgilvyOne presentation on the “Search for the world’s best salesperson”. The Debussy auditorium was full, in anticipation of an exciting session wherein the audience would get to hear the three finalists make a live sales pitch for a new Motorola phone. And the audience would then vote live and the winner announced before our very eyes. Despite a technical glitch during his pitch, we had a winner – but the audience feedback outside the auditorium was a unanimous thumbs down. It was felt that the finalists were definitely not worthy of the “best salesman in the world” crown. “Humaare India men tho…” was a common refrain from the proud Indian contingent who felt that the local salesman at home could do a better job. But in keeping with David Ogilvy’s maxim “We sell, or else…”, the session ended with a clear message – Sales is an integral part of advertising and marketing. Or, else…

• A session by JWT’s Chairman and CEO, Worldwide, in partnership with his Creative chief kept the audience’s spirits high. They shared the JWT commitment to ‘create ideas that people want to spend time with’. In an era where time is the new currency, they urged the advertising fraternity to create stories and then invite consumers to participate. They then engaged the audiences with cases from the JWT fold that did just that. The Ford case from Argentina. The ‘Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus’ campaign for CBS. The campaign for Kotex. ‘My first book’ idea from South Africa. The campaign to make Kit-Kat relevant for the youth. The UNICEF campaign in Haiti to donate for water. The case study for the Mexican Red Cross. The two Heineken cases – one which saw them introduce beer flavored lip gloss just ahead of Valentine’s day. And another that coerced football lovers to attend a music concert with their girlfriends, at the cost of their favourite football match….all received a thunderous applause. And I would urge all to view these cases….simple ideas that were extended well beyond traditional media and hit the bull’s eye with their audiences.

• A Wunderman presentation took a serious look at where does inspiration come from. The presenter urged us to take time to reflect – even though in today’s fast paced world it may feel awkward. “Let the subconscious do the work”, he urged.
 
• An exciting presentation courtesy the Screen Advertising World Association (SAWA). They showed us examples of how cinema and cinema advertising was rapidly changing, thanks to technology, giving way to greater recall and impact. Digital cinema and 3D is still coming our way, they said. These are just early days. And we were exposed to the magic of Dolby surround 7.1. We also got a chance to have a sneak preview of Toy Story 3 and Avataar, both with Dolby surround 7.1 and 3D. And a few 3D interactive ads. By the end of the session it was obvious that 3D is here to stay…in movies n ads.
 
• There was a panel discussion to understand what made London the world centre of great advertising in the ‘60s to the ‘80s. For many like me, this was a not very relevant discussion about an era gone by. And as Piyush Pandey summed it up, having once given to the world, it is possibly time now for UK to take back learnings from the world.
 
Needless to say, amidst all these sessions, there was no time for having lunch. Six shortlist exhibitions opened this morning. I need to find time to see the work, tomorrow.

An observation…here an iPad, there an iPad, everywhere an iPad…with so many of them visible at the Palais, the advertising fraternity has obviously taken to this latest offering from the apple stable.

Another observation…every session starts and ends on time – very effortlessly – despite the size of the event and the huge number of delegates.
The evening brought with it the first award night, for what were identified as the 3 fastest growing categories – Promo and Activation Lions, PR Lions and Direct Lions. As a proud Indian, it gave me immense joy to see that each of the jury panels had a jury member from India. Our industry leaders are obviously being recognized across all facets of the communication mix.

India opened its tally with a Bronze for Ogilvy Calcutta in the Promo and Activation category. We also won a Silver in the PR category thanks to BBDO Bombay (yes, the ad agency). A big disappointment was the absence of work from India in the Direct category wins. India was early to recognize and adopt the DM discipline – more than 20 years ago. And still…

I rush back to the hotel to pen this piece. Only to see an unexpected side of Cannes. In the land of late nights and parties, the restaurant in my hotel shuts by 10pm. So there goes my dinner. And I have to manage with a milk shake from Haggens Daz.

So much for now. And until tomorrow, au revoir!

Ajay Kakar is chief marketing officer of financial services at Aditya Birla Group.

Source:
Campaign India