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Cannes Musings: India story is missing at Cannes or is it just me?

Gopa Kumar, Executive Vice-President, Isobar feels the India story generally is missing in the festival though a lot of great work is happening here as well. He asks if India is projecting itself right or not able to sell its cultural nuances and the narrative

Mid-week and half way to the Cannes Lions Festival of 2018, the buzz and the fervour continue. One of the observations which I have, and it resonates with many here, is that in the general representation of India and APAC is really low or for that matter subdued this year.

While India may not be still a big contributor to overall creative and advertising, I would still like to believe that it’s an important market and lot of great and transformational work is happening here as well, but India’s story generally is missing in this festival.


This does really make me wonder. Are we not projecting it right? Is it us or are we not able to sell the cultural nuances and the narrative of India or it’s just plain disregard to whatever is happening in this part of the world? Or should we just ignore this and say it’s a non-issue and we shouldn’t be bothered?

So back to the sessions and what we are here for – learning and experiences. I feel by far the best day with regards to quality of sessions. As I mentioned yesterday, it’s about choices and you feel wanting to cover more, attend more but I am afraid you can do that much only.


The first session of the day I attended was on Founders Formula for Pioneering and Purposeful Growth by Keith Weed and then joined by Founders of Sundial Brands, Dermalogica & Gram.

Keith went on to discuss the founder mindset within Unilever and how that has been an important secret to its success. He went on to examine and lay out the business model of the future and how Unilever will engage going forward.


He outlined three broad points of

1) Responsible Platform 2) Responsible Content 3) Responsible Infrastructure


He also demanded transparency from influencers, brands and partners alike.

All of the founders in the panel went on to join the stage and talked about the founders’ mindset, how to differentiate and grow your brand with a purpose and to be real and how to be authentic.

Another impressive session was by Apple’s Senior Vice-President, Retail, Angela Ahrendts. The presentation was all about how Apple under her leadership has begun to reinvent its retail space with a commitment to human connection and inspiring learning and pushing creativity. Apple has initiated this journey to transform retail spaces for the community and build human connection and the examples of Apple stores across the world and how its transformation was impressive and inspiring.

One of the presentations I was looking forward to was by R/GA on transformation at speed. And it did not disappoint me. Great talk on how the advertising business itself is getting disrupted and how it’s not a TV problem but an everything problem. Digital advertising is at cross roads as well and brands are losing share to nice small players who are disrupting the biggies. The new framework to live by, according to them, is to have a user first philosophy, be socially scaled, direct to consumer, have end-to-end control and yes in between do some advertising. They also delved dapper into by unpacking real briefs that every brand should be tackling to transform their business, customer experience and marketing.

The last two presentations that I attended on Day 3 at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity were Conan O’Brien, comedian and TV host and Shaquille O’Neal, former basketball player. The session was titled ‘Jack of all trades, masters of some’. It had audiences in splits with the humour of both the stars; they went on to speak about their philosophies when it came their brands and how keep themselves relevant and also build a deeper connection with their fans and audiences.

The other presentation was moderated by David Schwimmer (actor and director) with DDB CCO and President of Mars Confectionary. They talked about the making of the Skittle Super Bowl Commercial, which was designed to be seen only by one person and the entire story behind how did this happen. In all a good session!

In all, a very fruitful and inspiring day at Cannes! Inspiration continues and as the day ends news of Isobar US winning a Grand Prix in Digital Craft Category makes the night even more happening.

And yes the party has just begun!

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of and we do not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)

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