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Cannes Lions 2021 Live: Creativity is sensitivity in a world where no one is listening: Josy Paul

The Chairman and CCO of BBDO India defines ‘emotional data’ and talks about its importance in creativity and communication

Josy Paul

On Day 2 of Cannes Lions, Josy Paul, Chairman and CCO, BBDO India, spoke briefly about the concept of emotional data and explained how it can help come up with ideas that impact the society and people who consume communication.

Paul explained how creativity can create meaningful action. He said the process actually starts with deep understanding and having empathy. “Creativity comes not only from insights but also confession, stories, dialogues and therapy. We call it emotional data but you can call it what you like. It is the data that sometimes involves things that hard data can’t get you; it is the data of the soul and heart. It involves an uncomfortable understanding of people and society,” he described.

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He mentioned a few of his successful campaigns, where he undertook the process. Josy referred to an incident when they were working on e-commerce brand eBay. He said the client came to them and asked if they could come up with one reason eBay exists and its purpose.

Paul and his partner called a group of people from the agency in a room and asked them to express the reasons they buy things. While at the beginning people spoke about superficial things about brands and why people buy, Paul started sharing his own vulnerabilities and thoughts. “When we kept asking questions and sharing our own vulnerabilities about the things we buy, one of the girls in that group said, I buy things because when I was born, my grandmother always wanted a boy. Having seen that, I'm a girl. She was most disappointed but I buy things to prove to her that I'm better than any boy and I buy more things to show that I'm fantastic. When she began to tell this story, she broke down and all of us broke down and so many new stories emerged through that process.”

Paul said he entered the creative field with the thought of connecting disparate things and creating something out of that connection, but he realised this is a new way of defining creativity. “It's probably sensitivity in a world where no one is listening. With eBay, we came up with an idea based on this experience called things don't judge. eBay has 100 million things that don’t judge you when you buy. A wedding ring does not judge a 70-year-old, and that became the larger purpose for the brand,” he further stated.

Paul spoke about the inception of the ‘Touch the Pickle’ campaign they did for P&G, which went on to win the inaugural Glass Lion Grand Prix at Cannes in 2015. He said he realised they have done this across the board without realising it.

Paul stated how in a discussion with the P&G team, which mostly had women, they did not understand the nuances of periods for Indian women with regards to taboos. “In that chat when I questioned why P&G showed blue blood when blood is red, the team opened up about all the taboos and said these are the things stopping us. From that emerged a campaign called touch the pickle.”

He gave examples about Dove campaigns that questioned the idea of beauty and said these are the stories that are the starting point of a revolution. “It's already happening. I'm not revealing anything new. There's nothing creative about what I'm saying. I'm just sharing with you stories that show you the emotional data that is buried when it comes out of us human beings. It impacts the world.”

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