Ujaya Shakya
Jun 18, 2018

Opinion: Can Nepal win a Cannes Lion?

As the world's largest advertising festival kicks off in France today, every country is looking at its own performance on the world's biggest advertising stage.

Image courtesy: Sajeshwor Sreshta
Image courtesy: Sajeshwor Sreshta
Come June, and the entire advertising world flocks to its favorite destination- the French Riviera. For decades, Cannes has been the place for advertising and marketers alike, to showcase their creative and marketing muscle. It’s a jamboree that has been revered and debated over, but never ignored. 
So that brings us to the big question. Can Nepal win a Cannes Lion? I’m sure, people from my fraternity and clients alike in Nepal, have been mulling over this question for years. If we all knew the secret to winning a Lion, it would’ve no longer remained a secret. 
In my humble opinion, there isn’t a ‘formula’ for winning. It’s a combination of varied factors. But it all starts with a single point – “the great idea”. An idea that is new, refreshing, and has the power to engage and possibly, change human behavior. An idea that has never been done before. Simple put, solving a business problem in a new and innovative manner. Sounds easy; but it is easier said than done. 
The work that has been winning at Cannes has certain edginess to it. It is a reflection of the audacity of the agency to come up with such path-breaking work. But let us not forget the important role played by the client, who actually believed in this edgy stuff and endorsed it too. It’s all about the partnerships between client and agencies that are behind these wins. So a win at Cannes isn’t just a win for the agency, but for clients as well. At times, it is also taken as a national pride by the whole fraternity working in the industry as this festival is consider to be equivalent of the Oscars and the Grammy.   
As advertising professional for almost last two decades, it is my dream that Nepal should win its first ever Lion for our country very soon. I strongly believe that we (agency), and the clients should join hands and work in tandem to achieve this recognition. The road ahead is not easy, but not impossible as well. There are enough brands that are willing to break the mould, and challenge the creative status quo. It’s a matter of believing and applying oneself to this great cause. Winning a Lion not only does wonders for the agencies, but for brands as well. Usually it is seen, the brands that win at Cannes have seen their popularity soar, which in turn, has positively impacted their market share and sales. This has also made the brands more recognizable on the global platform and has given them leverage to play the game at the global level. 
For agencies, it’s a great boost for the people involved and the agency as a whole. It just adds to their confidence and pushes them to work harder for their clients, which will yield better results and better advertising solutions. This ultimately helps the clients too. So it’s a win-win situation for all. 
South Asia as a region has started to perform well at Cannes, since 2008, when India won its first Grand Prix Lion for ‘Lead India’ Campaign. That surely has boosted the creative energy in the region and we can see India perform much larger scale in the festival now. Followed by Sri Lanka who got its first Cannes Lion in 2012 and Bangladesh won its due in 2016. 
And speaking of winning, it is high time we start taking this dream seriously and work together towards it. As an ad professional from Nepal, I have been dreaming for quite some time that we should hear a Cannes Lion roar in my country. 
(Ujaya Shakya is the founder and managing director of Outreach Group based in Kathmandu and the author of ‘Brandsutra’.)
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