Awards are important. Recognition is fuel. Anything that encourages creativity is critical to our industry. It’s part of the ecosystem of motivation that feeds new brand thinking. Every idea that inspires, and every execution that raises the bar, must be celebrated. It is our way of pushing and urging each other to greater glory.
I have been fortunate to be part of teams whose work has received several such recognitions, and I treasure each one of them.
My tryst with the awards world goes back a long way. In the nineties we used to win at the local shows. We never really thought about these awards. It was happening while we were busy exploring our own creativity. We had very little idea about international awards.
Then in early 2000, we created an agency called ‘David’ and we won India’s first One Show metal. We kept winning, but never at Cannes. The Lion eluded us for a long time.
In 2008, we set up BBDO India. And we won our first Cannes Lion with our very first movement idea for P&G - Gillette’s ‘Women Against Lazy Stubble’. The jinx was broken. The ghost had fled the machine!
We went on to win every possible inaugural award at Cannes. The first Black Lion for Creative Effectiveness, the First Glass Lion Grand Prix, the first Glass Lion Gold and the inaugural Entertainment Lion.
Of course we need awards. They shine the torch on great work and help the industry recognise the voice of the time. It underlines the mood of the world and tells us where communication is going.
But we are now witnessing a new kind of reward: the emotional outpouring and cathartic engagement with our ideas by millions of Indians and with people in different parts of the world. It’s a great feeling to see your idea open the floodgates of opinion and debate, and challenge the status quo.
When Gillette ‘Soldier for Women’ stood up for women, both men and women saluted the brand because it was and continues to be the need of the hour.
When Whisper ‘Touch the Pickle’ touched a universal chord, it was not just with the juries at award shows, but with every Indian woman who was affected by age-old menstruation taboos.
And when our only entry at Cannes this year Ariel’s Dads#Share the Load won five Lions – one each every night of the awards – we knew we had touched something too deep to imagine.
When you get countless comments and stories on social media to fill more than thousand volumes of books. When your phone never stops ringing and people call you weeping to share their story.
Like the young lady, who had left marketing because she was disillusioned, now wanting to get back because she saw the new power of her role with our work.
Like a friend who called to tell me how he got the family together to see the film, and how he wept saying, “I’ve been a bad father.” And how the children fought back their tears to say, “No papa, you’ve been great.”
Amazing, isn’t it? All this was a different kind of award. This was an emotional Grand Prix.
I have come to realise that a part of me changes every time I see the effect of our work on the world around us.
As an industry we are at a golden age, when brands want to be agents of social change. It is a brave new world of marketing where acts of empathy and compassion, more than ads, are celebrated.
(Josy Paul is chairman and CCO, BBDO India. Views expressed are personal.)