Cannes Lions 2023: Will India's performance surpass its 2022 benchmark?

After India's incredible performance at the International Festival of Creativity in 2022 and the homecoming of the first 'Agency of the Year' title, along with 47 metal hauls across 20 categories, spoke with adland experts to understand how they see this year's awards turning out for the country's creative work

Shreya Negi
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Cannes Lions 2023: Will India's performance surpass its 2022 benchmark?

With a little over a month left for Cannes Lions 2023, several Indian ad industry experts have expressed the hopes that the country would be able to repeat its performance from 2022 at the International Festival of Creativity. However, a few others also opined that one shouldn’t lose hope if things don’t go as per expectations and stated that it’s important to see the bigger picture.

Last year was the first time that India, in a true sense, won big at the International Festival of Creativity by not just bringing home the coveted “Agency of the Year” title but also by picking 47 metal hauls across 20 categories.

In fact, in terms of Grand Prix and Titanium, India with 210 points was second to USA which earned 365 points. Moreover, each of the two creative agencies- Dentsu Creative Bengaluru and FCB India also crossed the 100 points benchmark in the overall tally.

Ajay Gahlaut

According to Ajay Gahlaut, former Group CCO, Dentsu Creative India, 2022 was a magnificent year for India at Cannes.

“It was an outlier performance by Indian agencies which brought home multiple Grand Prix, Good, Titanium Lions, including the Agency of the Year for the first time ever. Every year cannot be as productive as the last one was. However, I do expect India to do well at Cannes this year as well,” he said. 

He also went on to add that while the nature of entries these days is such that one only knows about the work when one sees is at award shows, some promising pieces could be the Cadbury 5 Star work from Ogilvy, the Hrithik-Burger King stunt and the Oreo 2011 World Cup work by Leo Burnett. 

“I’m sure the usual suspects - FCB Ulka, Dentsu Creative, Mudra DDB, Mccann Erickson and BBDO will have some interesting pieces up their sleeves as well,” he stated.

Amit Wadhwa

Amit Wadhwa, CEO, dentsu Creative India, said, “While you don’t get to win the World Cup every time, I am sure across agencies there is a good amount of exciting work out there that will make us proud as a country. I am no astrologer so can’t predict the number but like I said I have a feeling it would be a good year for India,” he said.

Mukund Olety

Mukund Olety, Chief Creative Officer, VMLY&R, also expressed that India is now on the global advertising map and all eyes will be on it this year. “I expect us to do very well,” he said.

In his opinion, the best part about last year’s wins was the diversity of pieces and a lot of agencies contributing to the tally. “I hope to see more Indian pieces being celebrated this year as well,” he said.

Santosh Padhi

Sharing his viewpoint on the same, Santosh Padhi, Chief Creative Officer, Wieden+Kennedy, stated that while the wishful thinking for the Indian ad industry would be to break the record that India set at the Cannes Lions 2022 year after year and up the game every single time, albeit as an individual creative agency or the country as a whole, but to be fair to all, there isn’t any formula for cracking creativity as it is very subjective.

“Our whole attempt is to come up with great ideas, but one should understand that at times, many factors including costs, opportunities to convert, timelines, etc. come into play. Having said that, I don’t think we should take awards extremely seriously and as if our lives depend on it, because even though awards are important for the creative fraternity, I always feel that for any creative person or agency, it’s an average of three years and how do you perform during the same period is what matters,” he added.

Further, he also opined that if an individual or agency wins phenomenally one year and ends up winning nothing in the two years that follow, then that one big win is often considered to be ‘luck’.

“I think great creative agencies are the agencies who consistently perform and there have been some agencies who have done it for long. Hence, consistency is what matters and therefore an average of three years should be taken into consideration to be fair. With that being said, I believe every year is important but we should be a little mindful that awards don’t mean everything and therefore, youngsters especially should not get into depression if we don’t win this year or in the coming years,” he pointed out.

Mukund Olety creative agencies Cannes Lions Agency of the year Santosh Padhi Amit Wadhwa Ajay Gahlaut International festival of creativity Cannes 2023 India at Cannes incredible India India performance