Arati Rao Shephali Bhatt
Jun 20, 2012

Campaign@Cannes Blog: India takes centrestage

Takeaways from the ‘Global India’ seminar by Lowe + Partners at Cannes Lions 2012, and India-spotting on day three of the advertising festival

Campaign@Cannes Blog:  India takes centrestage

Many from the Indian contingent, including us, took our places in the queue before the scheduled time for the ‘Global India’ seminar on day three of Cannes Lions 2012. I have to admit I was looking forward to it, and was quite proud when Michael Roth, chairman and chief executive of Interpublic, introduced Balki and Shekhar Kapur.

The highlights of the seminar for me were some memorable statements by Balki and Shekhar Kapur, some that drew laughs and others applause:

What Balki said:

When asked about what makes India exciting: “There’s a lot of money in India, it’s exciting.”

“So far the globe’s been the jury. Now when the globe is coming to India, Indians are the jury judging their products and skills.”

“I want to be a cultural originator, not a translator.”

“So many things that work in India don’t make sense to the world. Brands need to tap into the differences, not the similarities.”

“The general loudness of India gives the world a point of difference; where there’s difference, there's a point of interest.”

“Global brands have to behave like they’re Indian, and people assume they are Indian after a point. With Cadbury, Coca-Cola, and Pepsi – people love the brands for what they are in India.”

When asked how global brand managers could succeed in India: “Live in India for a while, watch Indian movies, watch Michael Wood’s documentary, and just leave it to the Indians.”

What Shekhar Kapur said:

“Social media is changing the way we live, we can’t expect it to not change the way we advertise.”

“India is in danger of becoming two economies. We need to become innovative, and that will be driven by change in the education system – and how we make job seekers into job creators.”

“Western attitudes haven’t changed; they need to look at India not as a market, but as a culture. With Indian brands and entrepreneurship becoming stronger, and aspirations and Indian consumers becoming more confident, it won’t be long before Spiderman takes his mask off and he will be Indian or Chinese.”

What wasn’t okay

This is my opinion, though it did seem to resonate with a few others in the audience. The moderator for the seminar, David Rowan, with all due respect for him as editor of Wired magazine, just seemed a misfit. I think a global client with a strong Indian presence would have been a better bet. Also, the auditorium wasn’t packed to the rafters for this one. Was the seminar not promoted enough or interestingly enough? Was the topic itself not intriguing for international delegates, who should have been the target audience?

It’s absolutely great that Lowe + Partners put the spotlight on India at a forum like Cannes; there’s always next time, I hope, for doing one better.  

India-spotting by Shephali Bhatt:

Day three started with Balki’s session, my first session at Cannes 2012. Saw the usual suspects get out of the Debussy once the session got over. Did a high five with Bang Bang Films’ Roopak Saluja on his way out of the auditorium. Met Kiss Films’ Dalbir Singh while stepping off the escalator. Bumped into Mahindra & Mahindra’s Vivek Nayer and Lodestar UM’s Shashi Sinha again. Later Sinha told me how he had to make notes of a UM session in his small diary. Amusing role-reversal! Chatted with Lowe Lintas’ Balki and film maker Shekhar Kapur for a bit. Balki suggested I visit St. Paul’s since this is my first visit to Cannes. Sounds like a good idea to me!

Met JWT’s Colvyn Harris while he was on his way out of the Palais. He ended up introducing me to three of JWT’s “rockstars” from Lebanon. Cards were exchanged. Saw Creativeland Asia’s Anu Joseph close to the live streaming section and my instant words were, “How much weight have you lost?” He just smiled. Next up was a meeting with Flipkart’s Ravi Vora at the Cannes connect bar. Post that Arati and I headed to the grand auditorium for the awards. The experience of being a part of that hallowed chamber is indescribable. It was nice to see the smile on Prasoon Joshi’s (McCann Erickson) face when he received the Gold Lion. On our way to the hotel we bumped into Josy Paul and his BBDO India team mates. Before I knew it was time for the Opening Gala (Click here for images from the evening). Met Euro RSCG’s Sushant Panda and BBH’s Russell Barrett there, besides the rest of Indian adland. And finally, I managed to visit the much famed Gutter bar, which by the way, is not really called Gutter bar (by the denizens of Cannes). Shooting Ajay Gahlaut of Ogilvy and Satbir Singh of Euro RSCG at 72 Croisette (aka Gutter bar) for the morning video was fun to say the least. Walked all alone on the roads of Cannes at 1 am. Waiting to hail day four now.

Campaign India

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