Senthil Kumar, national creative director, JWT India (L) and Gullu Sen, managing partner, From Here On...Communications (R)
Is Cannes Lions perceived by Indian creative as the ultimate recognition?
SK: Cannes Lions are by far the most famous and the biggest platform to showcase ideas for creative people anywhere in the world. People call it ‘The Oscars of Advertising.’ And the fact that many Indian ideas have won the highest glory at this festival makes it an annual opportunity for Indian creatives.
GS: It seems so. The older generation held the Golden Pencil and One Show in much higher esteem. The current generation seems to be completely sold on Cannes though most of them mispronounce it as ‘Kaans’. For last 10-odd years, the Cannes festival seems to have gained momentum.
If yes, what makes Cannes Lions more attractive than: D&AD, Clio, One Show? If not, why not?
SK: Over the last 60 years the festival has also grown in stature and it has become the single largest international festival in the business of advertising, drawing thousands of agency folk, agencies and marketing teams to the south of France every year. While it all began as a festival to celebrate ideas, it has grown into the annual melting pot of the industry, the people, the innovations, the exhibitions and a complete collective soul of its existence.
GS: First and foremost, unlike any other award show this festival has been marketed and sold very aggressively by the organisers and especially by TOI in India. Thanks to the media and the agency partnership the top brass in all the agencies got involved to give it a push.
Does Cannes’ popularity have to do with the way it has marketed itself? Would you say it has done so better than its peers?
SK: While the exhibition of your ideas is the biggest motivation for any creative person, Cannes Lions also has the beaches, the yachts, the interesting seminars, the myriad discussions, the intense debates and inclusive categories that showcase the world’s best work for one whole week in Cannes. An annual feat that is yet to be surpassed by the other festivals.
GS: The Cannes ad festival that follows in the footstep of Cannes film festival, which in essence is a destination festival. The city gives full support as it generates great tourism revenue. Award shows, beach parties, hobnobbing with fraternity from other continents... it is a very attractive package. No other advertising award show can boast of being promoted by a city.
Are we more obsessed with international metals? Why?
SK: I think its about making your country proud on the world’s biggest creative stage. Go ask an athlete what a gold medal at the Olympics means to him? Or ask an actor to define what an Oscar means to her? Or ask an architect what a timeless monument means? And then you’ll find that elusive bridge between creativity and recognition or the road that connects the ideas and their impact on the global stage. I don’t think anyone out there is obsessed with metals or the colour of them. If you are obsessed about your work and push the boundaries on the ideation and the execution, the results are bound to be similar in the global markets for our clients and in the festivals for our ideas.
GS: I call it the great Indian Quest for acknowledgement by International peers. It applies from sports to Bollywood. Look at all the noise generated by our stars on the dresses they wear, who walked with whom on the red carpet at the Cannes film festival. Whether we win any awards or not is another issue . A mere entry of a “desi” film in the festival becomes news. Looking westwards has always been a post colonial hangover. In all fairness maybe the west offers a better platform for good talent. Or maybe we are a little too skeptical and cynical about our own standards and value systems.
SK: I think the word ‘scam’ should be erased from the advertising diction. Don’t insult an idea I would say. Let’s stick to celebrating ideas that solve clients marketing problems. And we won’t have any other problems.
GS: There are two kinds of people. One is those who whole heartedly believe in these awards. Especially the young generation. Then there are the astute ones, who take these award shows for what they are. They use it as a device to showcase the unexplored potential of the creative talent. Forgiving or not, most award shows carry the baggage of scam ads including Indian ones. For the juries and agencies. It’s become something like ‘My scam is less scam than yours’.
Is a Cannes Lion relatively easier to win?
SK: I don’t think so. It takes a lot of hard work, one bloody good idea and an unforgettable execution to get there. It took me fourteen long years in the business to win India’s first Gold Lion in the coveted Film and Film Craft categories at Cannes in 2009.
Should agencies send more people for Cannes or focus on submitting more entries? What gives better RoI?
SK: I believe anyone and everyone who has created the work that is featured by the agency or the network at Cannes should go.
GS: It is a very tough and difficult question for any Business Head or a CFO answer in terms of RoI whether in terms of finance or personnel. From a HR perspective, it is a good motivation for the promising candidate. But on the flipside, as I have seen with a few people, the moment they win a metal they are promptly out in the market for an exponential hike in salary. The guys moves out and there goes your real RoI in a flash.