SSC&B Lintas was the first Indian agency to win a Gold Cannes Lions in 1996 for its ‘How to Kill a Mosquito’ print campaign for Hoecht's Hexit mosquito repellent.
Ryan Menezes, now the chief creative officer at Percept H, worked on this campaign while he was at SSC&B Lintas as creative director. He recalled, “I have the habit of proactively creating little thumbnails of ads for various products and brands, and one of these ads was for a mosquito repellent. While at SSC&B, a colleague saw this scribble in my book, and suggested I show it to Hexit, who was our client. So I got ace photographer Sanjeeev Angne to shoot my hands (yes, those are my hands in the ad), mocked up the ad and it was presented to Hexit, who loved it. The ad was released, and the rest is history.”
He added, “I believe what made this ad clutter breaking was the fact that it was probably one of the first interactive ads ever. It was also simple, unexpected, and rewarded the viewer with a laugh while delivering the message.”
Following this, Indian agencies had a dry run almost for five years. It was only in 2002 that they bounced back into the reckoning. Ogilvy & Mather picked up a Silver Lion in the Film category for 'Fevicol Bus’. After a long hiatus, India struck gold with the agency also picking up two Gold Lions for the Cancer Patients Aid Association work - print and poster campaigns.
Piyush Pandey, executive chairman and national creative director, O&M, said, “Even before this we did some campaigns for them. But this one I guess touched a chord with the jury.”
It was about time. Pandey’s first visit to the Cannes Lions festival happened in 1994 and it was the same year when Rajiv Agarwal became the first Indian jury member at the festival.
When quizzed about the why Indian agencies failed to win metals at the festival prior to 2002 (since 1996), Pandey explained, “We were also learning. And not so many entries were sent. Eventually a combination of a number of things worked for us. The quality of work improved. People became awards-savvy. We realised what to enter and what not to enter. And I have always believed number of awards doesn’t matter. Big work always wins.”