With the growth in economy providing little room for cheer, sending delegates to attend the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity seems like an even more expensive proposition than it actually is. But the returns are there to be had, believes adland.
More so, like investing in brands in a slowdown is the way to go, investing in young talent and encouraging them with a trip may be a good idea, say Cannes veterans.
Raj Kamble, managing partner, Strawberry Frog, is of the view that the Festival makes youngsters fearless. “Youngsters see what’s happening in their agency and follow it monotonously. Cannes helps getting people inspired. Cannes helps people learn and helps people getting fearless,” notes Kamble.
Twenty five to 30 percent of Ogilvy & Mather’s contingent to Cannes consists of youngsters, reveals Abhijit Avasthi, national creative director, Ogilvy & Mather. He adds, “Cannes is an amazing place to get exposure. Possibilities in technology and craft are endless at the event. Youngsters can learn a lot.”
While the obvious answer to sending youngsters is a yes, agencies have to restrain themselves because of budgets.
Kamble suggests that the budget to send youngsters could be attained by top suits making the sacrifice. He adds, “Sometimes top suits should allow younger creatives to attend Cannes. I see youngsters wanting to see outdoor, press (work) etc., but don’t see suits doing that. Young (creative) people can learn more at Cannes compared to suits. I call it investing in the ‘mystery’ and not the ‘history’. Sending people is more powerful than sending an entry which isn’t up to the mark.”
On the subject Ajay Kakar, chief marketing officer – financial services, Aditya Birla Group, adds, “While, I think it’s a great learning ground for youngsters, I don’t see too many youngsters at Cannes. It’s expensive. Many agencies find themselves constrained in sending their entire leadership team. We can try using this as a retention or motivating tool, but in an industry where there are so many cross offers floating, if a person leaves after visiting Cannes, it’s a waste of money for the agency. Sending youngsters - because of the heavy investment and retention in the industry - is anyway a concern.”
While budgets for youngsters could be a problem, Rohit Ohri, executive chairman, Dentsu India Group, has a method to maximise learnings and RoI from the trip a youngster makes to Cannes. “We can get youngsters who have been to Cannes to share learnings with a larger group of colleagues at work,” he offers.
While Agnello Dias, chairman and co-founder at Taproot India, agrees with Ohri about sharing learnings with people who don’t make it to the Festival, he holds the view that seniors attending can rationalise their visit better.
“I think mid-level talent should visit. But it is expensive and we also have the additional cost of travel, which most agencies across Europe who are just a train ride or car journey away do not have - not to mention the currency value. I suppose industry leaders combine their trips with meetings with global partners, senior level meetings etc. as well as client networking, some of which would be costs they would otherwise have had to incur separately. That is why, the cost gets rationalised better in their case.”
While most agency heads and regulars agree that youngsters must be sent to the Festival, the reality is that the younger crop must cut its teeth and display promise before getting this carrot. As one young adlander says: ‘Not everyone goes to Cannes’.
Ajay Kakar, chief marketing officer – financial services, Aditya Birla Group
“It is true that Cannes is appearing to be more of a perquisite than an industry forum. Not all of it converts to footfall at the Palais. People who have tasted blood want to go there again for a repeat. Second, people at senior levels will be sent to Cannes every year.”
Agnello Dias, chairman and co-founder, Taproot India
“The first time I went to Cannes, I came back all simmering because India was not even in the ball park; but some others I knew came back depressed at what they perceived was the extent of the gap between our markets. Today that gap is not there, so it would perhaps be more motivating than depressing in most cases”.
Rohit Ohri, executive chairman, Dentsu India Group
“Cannes is an important international event and most industry leaders come there to network with their network bosses as well as important clients. We need to give our young talent vital exposure to prestigious international festivals like Cannes. We need to get youngsters who have been to Cannes to share learnings with a larger group of colleagues at work”.
Abhijit Avasthi, national creative director, Ogilvy & Mather
“I doubt it boosts retention or loyalty. Once a youngster goes to Cannes and sees the opportunity, they must come back to an environment that lets them exercise the opportunity. Those who don’t get the environment to experiment will probably look at moving from the agency”.
Raj Kamble, managing partner, Strawberry Frog
“Youngsters go see international work and come back jealous. They come back wanting to ape the work and that is where great work can be created that can win a Grand Prix in the future”.