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Ways to make an impressive case study for Cannes Lions spoke to experts to understand how agencies can prepare an impressive case study

Widely regarded as the Oscars for the advertising and the communication world, the amount of talent and creativity on display at the Cannes Lions advertising festivals is extraordinary. Agencies from around the world try to bring in their best work of the year and present it in front of the jury with high hopes.

While there is a lot of talk which takes place around nominations and wins, the one thing that lies at the core of increasing one’s chances in the competition is presenting a good case study. Agencies have just 120-seconds to capture the attention of the jury, which comprises of some of the best creative minds in the advertising business. Based on these short case study videos, majority of the nominations are ruled out and the jury moves forward to decide a winner. 

With the sheer volume of entries, categories, language and cultural barriers it is quite possible that some truly good work might miss the juries’ eye. Therefore, spoke to industry experts to know what are the things one must keep in mind while designing a compelling case study for Cannes Lions. 

Hemant Shringy

Hemant Shringy, CCO, BBDO, stated the most important ingredient of an award-winning case study is - the work. “Which is also BBDO’s philosophy. Maybe that’s why BBDO was named Agency and Network of the Decade at Cannes.” 

He said the case study needs to help the jury members navigate through the thought process. According to Shringy, the most important ingredients of a compelling case study are bringing in clarity of the challenge, idea and execution. 

Azazul Haque

According to Azazul Haque, CCO, Mullen Lintas, one of the main reasons many agencies lose out is because they don’t present their cases in the right manner. He said a lot of agencies make one case study and enter it across categories. “Unfortunately, some people make it very generic and don’t talk about which category the work fits in and why so.”. 

“What makes the idea Cannes-worthy has to be explained in a crystal-clear way. There are multiple categories at Cannes, and why is that piece of work a contender in that category also needs to be explained,” Haque said. 

He further recalled making a case study for a few campaigns for Cannes Lions and spoke about the famous 2018 ‘World’s most honest tourism campaign’ for Madhya Pradesh, when he was at Ogilvy. 

“It won a silver and a bronze medal. Putting that together was interesting because we had to actually stitch together 10,000 pieces of real pictures. We had to make the case study as fun as the campaign was. We were also very particular about entering this piece for ‘craft’ because this campaign was all about editing. There was a marriage between sound design and editing in this campaign, we highlighted those features so that when the judges see it, they have better clarity on why this case should be awarded for that particular category,” he said.  

Since its inception in 1954, advertisers from around the world have showcased their work, which they create mostly for regional or national audience, at Cannes Lions- which is a global stage. Hence, experts suggest it is also important to pan out any cultural barriers that might be a component of one’s work.

Shringy said that while ideas are universal, their manifestations turn out to be rooted in culture. He said when ideas come from a land as culturally unique as ours (India), setting up the context effectively not only helps the jury members understand the idea but it also makes the idea mean so much more.

Agnello Dias

Agnello Dias, Ex-Creative Chairman, Dentsu India and Co-founder and Ex-CCO Taproot Dentsu, said, "The entry case study is a double-edged sword. It can work really well to bring alive things like context, perspective etc to a foreign jury. But it can also be misused to paint a perception of surround that is far more powerful than the creative piece itself, in fact without actually revealing the creative work sometimes. So, what the judges could end up awarding is a manipulative piece of context and presentation that the end audience of the communication may never have seen. So, it can be a boon or it can be ethically questionable.".

However, Shringy said it is more important to enjoy the process. “It is the work that you have done through the year, give it all the love and detail that it deserves and then wake up the day after the submission and think, ‘Ooooh. I could’ve added that piece too’.”

“You can try your best, you can hope and pray, but there are way too many factors that play a part, including what the jury members ate the night before to what side of the bed they woke up from, from a bad Wi-Fi connection, to a room that’s too hot or too cold,” concluded Shringy.

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